Sunday, 23 December 2012

Triple Chilli Chicken

Another simple, yet delicious and HOT dish, made in order to chillify those winter bugs that just won't leave us alone. 

Simply marinade the chicken in a spoonful of chilli paste, a splash of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, a teaspoon or so each of chilli, ginger and coriander Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices.

Gently fry off some onions and more fresh chilli. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked through, and then serve with some rice and sprinkle with chopped spring onions, and some chilli flakes if you really want to go for the burn!

Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices

Chilli paste with basil

Triple chilli chicken with rice.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Spicy Veggie Supper Club

Supper for Vegetarian Friends who love spicy food:

Starter: Tandoori Baby Potatoes with herb-spiced yoghurt 

Recipe from Anjum Anand's modern vegetarian menu in October's Good Food.

Tandoori baby potatoes with herb yoghurt

Recipe from December's Olive magazine.

Nasi Goreng with poached egg

Dessert: Carrot Cake

Carrot cake...

...last slice

Easy Peasy Lime and Squeezy Chicken Wraps

Tonight's supper needed to be a quick and easy one (sick children, sick Himself, hectic day...) Spying some chicken breasts and my Gourmet Garden herbs and spices, it quickly became apparent a nice easy thai-spiced chicken wrap was in order.

Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices

All it took was dicing the chicken, marinading them in about 3 teaspoons of the Thai-Spices, a blob each of the Chilli, Ginger, and Coriander, a squeeze of lime juice, a teaspoon or so of fish sauce, and a teaspoon of sugar.

Heat the oil in the wok and gently fry the marinated chicken and some sliced pepper for about 5-7 minutes, until cooked through.

Thai-spiced chicken

Warm through some wraps and plonk the chicken in the middle. Squeeze some more lime juice on....

...And eat.

This is an entry for the Gourmet Garden Herbs Cook Off/Blog off. Go me!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Orange Drop Biscuits

These are scrummy biscuits I first tasted when Frances from our Food Styling Class made them for her photo shoot. They tasted delicious, she made a vanilla cream icing to go with them, and she styled them beautifully. I can't show you her photo, but I had to try them for myself. The recipe is from the delicous. baking book/magazine which I procured at the Cake&Bake Show in September. 

I made some in the shape of drops as the recipe said, the rest I used my flower cutters, and dusted (heavily) with icing sugar.
They were indeed fragrant with orange zest, and perfect with a pre-Christmas cuppa tea (or that small glass of red...).

Monday, 10 December 2012

Annie Bell's Baking Bible [Book Review]

Receiving a cookbook for Christmas is a tradition established in recent years to expand and improve my repertoire when cooking for the children and for dinner parties. This year, having tried a recipe from it already from a preview in a food magazine, I’ve chosen Annie Bell’s Baking Bible. It has already been bought, signed by Ms Bell herself, and handed over until Christmas Day, but I know where it’s hidden and will jolly well test it out in secret and give it a review, for the benefit of other baking fanatics out there who may be considering a Christmas purchase.

 Annie Bell is an award winning food writer who used to work as a cookery writer for Vogue, and as a food writer for The Independent. She is now principal cookery writer for YOU magazine and has published several cookbooks. This Baking Bible is a passionate and comprehensive book in which Annie shares with us her favourite cakes and bakes. Tweaking classic and favourite recipes, some from her mum or her friends’ mums, some sourced from renowned restaurants and recreated herself, and some simply learnt on her travels, she makes them accessible to the novice baker and to the experienced home baker. She has created or recreated over 200 triple-tested, simple yet impressive, methodical and thorough recipes, and provides, quite literally, a bible for those of us who yearn to create showstoppers for our friends, from nostalgic childhood favourites such as Gingerbread Men and Rock Cakes to modern versions of traditional bakes like Red Velvet cake and Lemon Meringue Pie. Decoration is optional, giving the baker the choice of keeping it simple or indeed, going for glory.

On opening the Baking Bible, you are immediately filled with the desire to make everything in it, and eat those delicious looking treats, entranced by the tantalising photos and encouraged by the uncomplicated and seemingly fool-proof methods to bake, bake, and keep on baking. My first attempt at emulating Annie’s genius stemmed from when I was presented with a glut of bananas from a colleague who over-ordered (12 bunches, instead of 12 bananas – you might think they would have queried such an order, but no…), so the obvious choice was Napket’s Banana Bread. Annie’s own introduction describes her own discovery of the perfect banana bread and her triumph at acquiring the recipe. My replication was a discovery of the perfect banana bread, and my triumph at creating a delicious cake from seemingly nothing.

Banana Bread

Next I made the banoffee pie. An ‘absurdly indulgent creation’ with a convenient shortcut. ‘Out of this world’ was one reaction from my banana over-loaded friend. 
Banoffee Pie

Chocolate orange macaroon torte was a much applauded dessert for a Sunday afternoon dinner with friends

Chocolate Orange...
...Macaroon Torte

Tearoom Chocolate Victoria
 and the classic tearoom chocolate Victoria has already been tweeted, commented on and sampled by friends and children.

There is nothing over-the-top or too showy in this collection, simply a collaboration of old-fashioned treats (perfect for the current vintage trends) and impossible-to-resist classics tinged with nostalgia. Nor is it a re-hash of previously released recipes; instead we get a well-balanced selection of new offerings presented with an authoritative and personal stamp.

Any recipe you may choose to look for is available online. By using but a few simple keystrokes, any ingredient, any dish, any recipe you may wish to find is available. But having a comprehensive, beautifully photographed archive of all the desserts, cakes, biscuits, pancakes, and meringues you could ever wish to bake in one book, with one simple aim – ‘Bake me!’, is invaluable. I cannot recommend this book enough, and this is only from having owned the book for less than a week.

Roll on Christmas Day and let this new Bible lead us not into temptation but deliver us our daily bake.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Spanish Supper Club

We had some lovely friends round for dinner. Started with some Cava, and the evening became quite hazy quite quickly. Nonetheless the food was memorable. José Pizarro's Seasonal Spanish Food strikes again.

Starter: Ibérico ham croquetas served with Mojo de Cilantro

Ibérico Ham Croquetas

Mojo de cilantro

Main: Pan-fried Pimentón Chicken with mashed potato, served with Brocolli with an orange dressing

Pan-fried Pimentón Chicken with mashed potatoes and Brocolli with orange dressing

Dessert: Chocolate and Orange Macaroon Torte

Chocolate and orange...
...macaroon torte

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas Cupcakes

On the last day of my Food Styling class at Leith's School of Food and Wine, we were lucky enough to have a photography session with a professional food photographer, Stuart Ovenden, who works as the Art Director for BBC Good Food Magazine. We had several weeks to think about our dishes and learn from Sarah Cook and Jennifer Joyce how to style food so that it looks tantalizing, tempting and encourages the reader to want to make it themselves or at least eat it then and there.

Being somewhat of a cake freak, as you may have gathered, I decided to go with something relatively safe, cupcakes! My recent foray into fondant icing decoration, and indeed the imminent Festive Season, inspired my theme of Christmas Cupcakes. The Christmas issue of My Cake Decorating Magazine provided me with the ideas, and the image I wanted to showcase developed from one snowman to a range of Christmas figurines.
Photo by Stuart Ovenden
The above shot, taken on proper equipment, with natural lighting, by a professional and below, taken by me on my camera phone. What a difference...

As you can see, the final shot, taken above on my camera phone in the studio, is so much more appealing than the quick shot I took below, on the kitchen table... but even so, the professional shot just makes it look so, well, professional!

But I'm still quite chuffed with how they turned out. Starting with the snowmen, and draping the 'snow' over the edge to create the body, worked quite well, and the figures got better as I went on.

Santa needs a nose... don't worry, he got one.

Rudolph, as requested by Joey

A fun and fascinating day, and here's hoping there'll be many more of those to come, with a lovely bunch of people and one little toe dipped into the world of Food Styling.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Food Styling at Leith's Cookery School

 Having just completed the Food Styling Course at Leith's School of Food and Wine, I thought I'd share my attempts at styling a Greek Salad, and a Trifle.

Greek Salad

Greek salad, a social, organic style.

Thanks to Jennifer Joyce for her fun and informative classes.

Photo by me.

Chocolate and Cherry Trifle, a joint effort with Mandy from Number 12 Creative.

Thanks to Sarah Cook for the tips and really enjoyable classes.

Photos by Mandy.



Thanks also to Stuart Ovenden, food photographer and Art Director at Good Food Magazine, for lots of useful tips and making it look easy... it's not!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chorizo, pepper and lemon rice

A quick, simple and flavoursome supper from the Weekday Notebook section of delicious October issue, adapted to accommodate my lack of couscous and peas.

Cook some rice in chicken stock. Meanwhile gently fry off some chorizo, adding in some onions and peppers, for about 10 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and stir in the zest of a lemon and squeeze in the juice. Add this into your chorizo mix, and scatter with basil leaves. Scrummy, spicy, and speedy.

Chorizo, pepper and lemon rice

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Meeting Annie Bell

As you may have gathered, I'm quite a fan of baking. So on Thursday, I spotted a tweet saying Annie Bell is signing copies of her new Baking Bible in Selfridges, and I figured if I left work straight away, legged it down Oxford St, I would be able to join the end of the queue, just in time. In my flurry, I made it there, looked around the cookery book section, and thought, 'where is she?'... I asked one of the assistants (who were forbidden from sampling the chocolate fridge cake Annie had brought, how cruel of Selfridges) and, ahem, she was right there behind me. Picking up a book from the pile, I was pounced on by the PR lady, and told that one is already signed, to save time, I expect, so if I would like to have it signed personally, then Annie could do that for me. Ooh yes please... looking around for the massive queue, I was rather surprised to find I was next!

Annie was seated demurely behind a stack of her bibles, and seemed rather taken aback at this flustered, wind-blown, breathless fan, practically jumping up and down in front of her with excitement. Dear me, I thought I was calm, laid back, and rather well-groomed, but no, simply delusional on that front. When asked my name I dithered some more between Ann and Annie, not wanting to sound too crazy by claiming to have the same name as her, but yet I quite like being called Annie, even though my name is Ann. Still more dithering then, as I asked if she would mind having a photo with me. The PR lady offered to take it for me (although I was keen to try out my portrait-photo option) so she did, getting the first one very blurred, and the second with Annie (not me) looking lovely and me (not Annie) looking like I was about to be sectioned.

'Lovely to meet you,' I said, 'You too', she said. Not too sure she meant that, but she was very charming and I do apologize if I alarmed her!

Annie Bell's Baking Bible book review, coming soon. And Himself has my Christmas present inadvertently sorted.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Gangster Style Dinner Party

An Italian-American theme, inspired by the fact that it was Martin Scorsese's birthday - it was too early for Christmas, and gone past Halloween... so we had to think of something...
I only made the dessert, but enjoyed the sumptuousness of the whole menu.

Starter: Fig, soft cheese, chive and tomato wrapped in Parma ham

Fig wrapped in Parma ham

with tomato, soft cheese and chive

Main: Italian chicken with olives, served with green beans (and a slice of Spanish tortilla...)

Dessert: New York Baked Cheesecake with blueberries

New York Baked Cheesecake, recipe from Olive Magazine

Only one slice left...

Much mmming at this.