Thursday, 26 September 2013

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

I just needed a quick, nibblely, sharing-type supper, so I found a recipe in Lorraine Pascale's book Home Cooking Made Easy. However, on reading through it, I realised that she never marinated the chicken!? What? So I brought out my trusty little Cookshelf Thai book again, and found a satay beef marinade. Almost everything that Lorraine put in her peanut sauce, went in the marinade, apart from the peanut butter. While Ms Pascale simply shallow fries the skewered chicken, and then daubs it in honey near the end of cooking, my little marinade made it extra special and oh so much more authentic. Her peanut sauce was grand, more than acceptable, and similar to the one from my little book, so I'll give her that one. Now I love to watch Lorraine Pascale, she makes everything look easy, and, to be fair, her book makes it so, but a not marinating a satay chicken? When you are making it anyway for the dip? I would...

lorraine pascale
Satay Chicken
Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce


7-8 chicken mini fillets, or 3-4 breasts cut into strips
Oil for frying
Drizzle of honey (optional)
Fresh coriander

For the marinade:

2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cm ginger, chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
juice 1 lime
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder/ 1-2 fresh chillies, chopped

For the peanut sauce:

100g crunchy peanut butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 red chillies, chopped
pinch of light brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
juice 1 lime
3-4 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1-2 tbsp water


Mix all the marinade ingredients together (you can blitz them if you wish, but there's no real need) and marinate the chicken in it for at least an hour, but the longer, the better.

Soak some wooden skewers in water for about half an hour, cut so that they fit in your frying pan.

Make up the peanut sauce by blitzing (or roughly chopping) all the ingredients together. Taste and season as you like.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat some oil in your frying pan. Skewer 2-3 mini fillets on each skewer  (you don't have to use skewers if you don't have any, you can just fry them as they are) and shallow fry for 5-8 mins on each side, making sure they are cooked through. Alternatively, grill them for 10-12 minutes each side. You can drizzle a little honey over them near the end of cooking if you wish, but make sure you wipe the honey out in between if you are cooking in batches.

Serve the skewers with the peanut sauce, sprinkled with fresh coriander, and perhaps a chopped cucumber and red pepper salad.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Cookbook Signings by Famous People!

Two in one day!

My culinary hero, Spanish chef Jose Pizarro: A friend works near his Bermondsey restaurants, casually chats to him on occasion, and may have inadvertently indicated that I am a crazed fan...

Jose Pizarro sends his love!

Also the charming and entertaining (in real life!) Deb Perelman who writes the fabulous and infamous Smitten Kitchen blog; she was amongst a group of food bloggers who have become real food writers with published cookbooks at Divertmenti Cookery School in Marylebone last night. I was torn between buying Deb's book or James Ramsden's Do-Ahead Dinners, also a supper-club/dinner party guru, so sorry James, but I went for the fame...

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
'Start by faking it, then you can actualize it.'
It was a lovely evening, listening to how each of them started out as bloggers, and through their pure love of food and sheer hard work, became renowned published cookbook authors. Working with food all day, then writing about it - what a dream job! Also talking about the changing world of food writing, and what inspires their cooking and writing were Rosie Lovell (Supper with Rosie), Ellie Grace (Kitchen & Co), and Tim Hayward (Food DIY). 

Perhaps one day...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Cake&Bake Show - Sugarpaste Roses and a Mini Bake Off!

Last year's Cake&Bake Show was a whirlwind of new ideas, inspiration and a virtual stampede to stock up on every single thing I needed for baking cakes. This year's show, although bigger, and yes, I would say, better, was much more relaxed and, I admit, smug. Yes, having a press pass, means, even if you are just a lowly blogger like me, you get to hang out in the Press Room. With the Great British Bake Off contestants. Oh yes. Kimberley and I are now bezzie mates. 
Of course, not really. I did get to have a really nice chat with Kimberley and Toby (to whom I apologise, I could not remember his name at the time). They were staunch in their confidentiality briefs and could not hint at all at who will win this series. I am confident it will be Kimberley herself. She is every bit as smiley and delightful as she is on the show. Just because I like her and she is a real person (again, an apology to Toby, but he is already out...).
Also mulling around were John Whaite and James Morton from last year's show, and Rosemary Shrager gave me a big smile. My kids loved her in I'm A Celebrity, so that was them impressed when I got home (that, and the Raspberry Fizz handmade chocolates from Artistry in Cocoa).

This year I wanted to see as many demonstrations as I could to learn more about techniques, and stalk some more people off the telly. The first demo was Quick and Easy Roses with Kathy Moore of Squires Kitchen.
She showed us how simple it is to made a beautiful sugarpaste rose. Sugarpaste is the best icing to use as it is extremely flexible, hardens relatively quickly and keeps its shape beautifully for months. A simple cone shape - using a pretty shade of pink - is allowed to dry, with some wire glued on the base (edible glue, obviously). While it is drying, you can add a little white sugarpaste to the same pink colour to lighten it, cut out a five-petal shape using a cutter, gently boff the edges with a dog-bone tool, spread some glue around the centre and slide it up the wire, adhering only the base of the petals to the cone, and over-lapping them in a natural layout. Allow this to dry while you cut out another shape, again lightened, this time with just three petals. Attach in a similar way, and again, allow to dry. A final layer of five with a slightly larger petal cutter, in white, repeat the process, and there you have it. Beautiful, and simple, with a natural colour gradient.

Cone on a wire
Layers of petals
Beautiful Rose

Another class which I would have loved to attend was April Carter's Cake Pop Class. Wrong day though, but you can see how it went on her blog, AND how she was cheeky enough to get a photo with the Bake Off peeps!

Next up for me was a live Bake Off between John Whaite and James Morton. Introduced by Wendi Peters, herself a MasterChef finalist, it was fun, more so for me at the beginning when I tweeted that my money was on John. James replied, saying 'Quite right too', but it turns out we were both wrong. I resisted the urge to tweet 'PICK ME!' when they were choosing two audience members, nor did my Hermione-style hand in the air get a look in, but hey, I would have been totally outshone by most of the contestants of this year's show joining James on-stage. They all made almond tuiles, in what seemed like minutes, chatting away about their new books and gossiping about Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Bake Off fans heaven. James' tuiles were voted best, at which point John cheekily hopped over to the other side to join in the glory!

James and John live almond tuile bake-off, hosted by Wendi
James has a slightly unfair advantage...
Peering in the oven in true GBBO style
A fantastic day. All the sugar certainly helped with that hangover...

Monday, 16 September 2013

Talking Turkey with An Incredible Spice Man

If you have been enjoying the banter between the two Incredible Spice Men, you would have enjoyed my evening on Wednesday. I got invited, as a food blogger, to an event at Cyrus Todiwala's restaurant Cafe Spice Namaste in E1. Cyrus and his wife Pervin run this long-established restaurant specialising in fine Indian cuisine, and have even won this year's Best Asian Restaurant Business. The banter between Cyrus and Pervin reflected that on the show, and he was at ease cooking in front of 20 or so foodies, often diverging from his point to answer one of our questions, giving us a wealth of biological facts and interesting anecdotes to ponder as we watched and ate. For instance, did you know that all turkeys originated in Mexico? Or that turkeys lay their eggs only in the summer months, requiring thirty times as much food for only a third the amount of eggs that chickens provide? Or that the difference between a spice and a condiment is that spices are dry (cloves, cinnamon, star anise) and condiments are wet (garlic, coriander, ginger). A spice will absorb your cooking oil (rapeseed is best - both for its Britishness and the fact that it is healthier than olive oil AND has a much higher ignition point making it safer to cook with higher temperatures) which then releases the flavour of the spice into your dish. And, a masala, familiar to us as a sauce with your chicken tikka, is in fact a mixture of any two or more ingredients, so a garlic and ginger paste is a simple masala.

the incredible spice men
Spices and condiments

The event was to promote British turkey as an everyday meat. Not just for Christmas. To demonstrate the versatility of the Norfolk Black, we were treated to a variety of Indian dishes cooked by Mr Todiwala. Pretty much every part of the turkey can be eaten. We sampled a khari gurdun - turkey necks cooked simply in a simple whole spice flavoured sauce - the neck is often disregarded as it has such well-developed muscle (comically evident in Mr Todiwala's turkey impression) but can be tenderized by slowing cooking or braising.

the incredible spice men
Khari Gurdun
Turkey liver can be stir-fried and spiced to make a dryish, spicy, flavoursome dish.
the incredible spice men
Turkey liver
Turkey eggs can be cooked just like chicken eggs - scrambled, omelettes, or even pancakes. Just add a bit of spice.
the incredible spice men
Scrambled turkey egg with turkey breast stir-fry

As if all this wasn't enough to make us feel stuffed (just like a turkey - geddit!?), it was then time for the four course meal...


Turkey Sheek Kavaab Omlette Roll - turkey minced with fresh ginger, garlic, chillies and spices, formed over a skewer, chargrilled and served rolled in a turkey egg omelette.
Mini Turkey Masala Pie - diced HEART of turkey cooked with chopped shallots, tomato and spices, filled in mini pastry cases, topped with chilli and cumin mash, and baked.
Bhuna Turkey Dosa - rice and lentil pancake filled with diced turkey GIZZARD cooked in traditional bhuna masala.

the incredible spice men
Turkey Starters

Trio of Turkey Tikkas:

Cafreal - in a fresh green masala,
Malai - mild with cream and cheese,
Peri-peri - hot .

the incredible spice men
Turkey Tikka
Main Course:

Leeli Kolmi Ni Curry - light green curry with fresh coconut and cashew nuts simmered with sustainably sourced red sea king prawns. (Cyrus thought we may have been turkeyed out at this point!)

Leeli Kolme Ni Curry
Turkey Chilli Fry
Turkey Mince Koftas
Vagharaela chaawal - Pulau rice flavoured with cumin and caramelised onion.
Potato Dosa Bhajee - a simple south style potato prepared with cracked mustard seeds, white lentils and curry leaves.


We're not finished yet! A creme brulee infused with saffron, ginger and cardamom.

the incredible spice men
Creme brulee, but not as we know it.
A really delicious evening - Cyrus showed that turkey is a versatile, healthy and, quite frankly, often cheaper meat to cook and eat. I, for one, will certainly be cooking much more with turkey.

Big thanks to Cyrus and Pervin, and to British Turkey for your wonderful hospitality.

the incredible spice men
Cyrus Todiwala, and yours truly

And hello to some of the other lovely food bloggers and fellow gobblers of the evening:

Snigskitchen Blog

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Mysterious Macarons

Fabric Magazine recently asked me, as a freelance food writer (ahem!) to pop along to the Residence de France in Kensington Palace Gardens (ooh la la!), and taste some macarons from the new selection by Pierre Herme. I was only too happy to oblige, and you can read all about it in the Fabric Food&Drink blog.

La Vie est Belle!

MACARON ISPAHAN: Rose, Litchi & Raspberry
Macaron Truffe Blanche & Noisette
 Jardin Mystérieux
Les Jardins selection

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Another Christening Cake

My cake decorating hobby has recently led to a few friends of friends asking me to make their special occasions cake. The last christening cake was admired by one such friend of a friend, who asked for a similar one, which made this one very easy - just had to change the name and date!

It still took a long time, particularly the re-googling for fondant booties, but it was still fun, and rewarded with a bottle of Prosecco. I might be tempted to make this my signature cake!

Monday, 2 September 2013

A Taste of Tenerife

Having been to Tenerife four times before (it's easy with kids, and grandparents on tap to babysit - that's my story and I'm sticking to it) I wasn't expecting much from the food - typical tourist fodder like steak and peppercorn sauce (infused with washing up liquid), chicken and chips, pizza and pies - so the search for a decent meal was on.

The best of the lot was Sebastian Restaurant, located in Sunset Bay Club Resort in Playa de las Americas. Pricier, yes, than the average beach-front caff, or even the swankier looking Italians overlooking the beach, but very much worth it. Service was smiley and knowledgeable, and some well known pop tunes were turned into Spanish guitar pieces for our listening pleasure. The menu was devoid of any of the aforementioned fodder and authentic tapas was on offer. The mixed chorizo and chistorra sausages were spicy and tender, the salmon looked tiny, but was actually extremely filling, with Canarian potatoes, and the duck with orange sauce was one of the best I've had. The filet of cherne looked very appetising too, as all dishes were presented beautifully with drizzles of sauce which could have been painted on with a fine brush.

Mixed chorizos and chistorra sausages
Salmon fillet with mussels in a lemon and champage cream
Half roast duck with orange &Grand Marnier sauce

Next best was Odissea, on Puerto Colon, overlooking the harbour and the beach. The draw for this place was several big screens showing some football match (bad timing for me), but it was still felt like being in a restaurant, rather than a pub and along with the usual fayre, served a great range of tapas dishes. We chose six between us, and it went beautifully with the bottle of Rioja, and to be fair, the football didn't last as long as the meal.
Odissea: Tapas

Our last evening was spent again on Puerto Colon, in Las Olas. I ordered steak, finally, after resisting both steak and chips the whole holiday. It was entitled 'Islas de Canarias', which meant it was served with a red mojo sauce, convincing enough. It arrived, plastered with cheese. I had to scrape the cheese off (it tasted fine, but would have filled me up after two mouthfuls), and worked through the medium rare steak in time. Cooked nicely, though it became chewier as it grew colder!
Las Olas: Fillet Steak -' Islas de Canarias'

A surprisingly nice meal, barbecue chicken with mojo sauce, at Aberdeen 'Steakhouse', on Avenue Ernesto Sarti (opposite the Iberostar - easy access to Mamma Mia on a Monday night!). However the rest of my party were disappointed with their steaks (strange, for a steakhouse, don't you think?) and the manager seemed rather rude and distracted having to accommodate a group of eight.

Restaurante Aberdeen: Barbecue chicken, rice with mojo sauce

Disappointingly, our meal at The Great Little Italy, on Calle Paris didn't live up to my expectations, as last time we visited I remember it being good. Great views of the beach (and the roofs of the restaurants below), and very accommodating staff. Our waiter was wonderful and spent much time making sure we were all comfortable, and the kiddies 'free' ice cream was very generous. My swordfish, sadly, was thin and undercooked. All the pizzas were scoffed within minutes though, although there was some other football match about to begin, I'm told...

The Great Little Italy: Swordfish

A couple of meals that I took photos of, and enjoyed, but can't remember the name of the restaurants (read: too many afternoon G&Ts):
Sea bass with asparagus
Rabbit salmorejo

Overall, I would encourage any visitor to Tenerife to try and sample the local fresh fish, avoid the imported meats, and try and make your own peppercorn sauce, at home, and then you will know what it should taste like before you go!
To the restaurant owners, please please please make us tourists eat proper Spanish food!
Egg n Chips... pah.