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.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Vintage Tea Party Year by Angel Adoree [Book Review]

Angel Adoree must be the Ultimate Hostess. This glamorous, indulgent, yet surprisingly detailed and useful book is excellent for planning small parties (tea parties or alcohol-soaked ones - depending on your guests), be it a group of dapper gentlemen, a bunch of teenagers wanting to be grown-up, a mum-to-be for a baby shower, or just the two of you on a romantic evening. Ms Adoree gives us a personal insight in her seemingly fabulous lifestyle.

The Vintage Tea Party Year by Angel Adoree
 She speaks as though it's all very simple, elegant and effortless, but I imagine it would take a lot of planning and preparation. However, whether you stick diligently to the specified theme or dip between various ones, there are a multitude of ideas and recipes to inspire any party, retro or otherwise, all with an element of splendor and escapism, as if we all should be spending all our time twisting headscarves round our hair and making our own bucket bunting!

The decadence within spans a range of canapés with a twist such as Fois Gras ballettes, Asparagus Cigars made with pastry, traditional dishes like Stuffed Bird and British Sandwiches, and elaborate yet classic cocktails such as Chocolate-Covered Cherry Martini. And of course indulgent desserts like Banana-Eton Mess and Red Velvet Layer Cake. All the special and celebratory recipes are easy to follow and illustrated by beautifully styled photographs by Yuki Sugiura and David Edwards.

New Year's Eve Tea Party Cocktails

Fois Gras Ballettes

Asparagus Cigars
Lamb Kofta with Rose Jelly

Banana-Eton Mess
Red Velvet Layer Cake

The Cheesecake Hairstyle
Fluffy, glamorous, decadent, extravagant, bespoke, even just flicking through the book evokes a desire to host a Vintage Tea Party by providing the reader with ideas for invitations, menus, even how to style your hair in the fashion of the day! I have to say those hair-dos at the end of each section are something I could never attempt myself, but even so, the temptation is there to give it a try - have you ever heard of a 'cheesecake' hair style?

My photographs are blatantly taken straight from the book, but in no way do them the justice they deserve.
Thank you to Octopus Publishing for the opportunity to review The Vintage Tea Party Year by Angel Adoree.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Little Boy's Christening Cake

My friend and Shiatsu therapist asked me to make her son a cake for his Christening.

Here it is! I used Rachel Allen's chocolate mousse cake (x2) as a base, as Katie can't have flour, and some ordinary sponge cut into cubes for the bricks. The elephant was modeled with ready-to-roll fondant icing, and wasn't without incident as the trunk wasn't fully supported as it set, so it kind of fell off! However I used some edible glue to stick it back on and I don't think it is too noticeable...

Somewhere in between 'quirky' and 'professional' now...

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Elephant made from fondant icing

Christening Cake

Posh 'Fish n Chips'

Once again, Rachen Allen to the rescue. This simple and healthy recipe saved the day when I got back late and needed to cook something for the in-laws, without resorting to takeaway.
We had a fillet of cod in, so I simply roasted some potatoes and red onions together, tossed in seasoned olive oil, until they were golden, then seasoned the fish, squirted with lemon juice, sprinkled with dill, and drizzled with olive oil, placed these on top of the spuds, and cooked for about 15 minutes. 

Delish Fish. 

Baked fish with potatoes.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I never thought I could cook Chinese at home. I'm not a huge fan anyway, with the delights of Indian and Thai takeaways available, but it was one of those evenings where I had no idea what to make for the in-laws,  and they 'fancied Chinese'. So after a quick rummage, I came across a little-used book called bite-sized Chinese by Hamlyn in my cupboard, sitting abandoned next to my much-used Mexican book of the same series.

The sweet and sour chicken looked achievable so it was worth a shot, using mainly store cupboard ingredients. 


1 egg white
2 tsp cornflour
pinch salt
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp thin cornflour and water paste


Lightly beat the egg white with the cornflour and salt. Coat the chicken strips in this mixture.

Shallow fry the chicken in batches for about 2 minutes on each side until light brown in colour.
Drain on kitchen paper while you do the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and stir-fry the garlic for 1 minute. Then add in all the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and cook for about two minutes. Have a taste and add a little sugar if necessary.

Serve with the chicken and some egg-fried rice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Eat that, Gok Wan!