Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

Red lanterns hanging aloft; a trail guiding Chinese lions to the city centre.  With drums and fireworks, Gibraltar welcomed in the Year of the Rooster.  If like many, you went into town to watch the spectacle and then headed to a regular Chinese restaurant for a mid-week-food-blow-out, great!   For those of you that missed out, all hope is not lost as any time between New Year and the Lantern Festival on February  11th is still considered auspicious, so why not celebrate the Year of the Rooster cooking up any of the following three fantastic Chinese inspired dishes;  or if you’re feeling adventurous make all three!

  • Duck wraps
  • Pork and prawn dim sum
  • Pork bao buns

Each of the following recipes can be created as standalone dishes, however, if you are making the bao buns remember that they need time to prove so it’s best that the dough for this is made first.  Once the bao dough is proving in a warm place, proceed to make the rest of the dishes.

Duck Wrapsimg_4142

1st: In an oven proof dish, place the scored duck legs and breast.  Sprinkle over Chinese five spice and add a few more star anise to the dish.  Season and drizzle lightly with oil (remember that the duck will render out a lot of fat.  Keep this rendered fat for amazing roast potatoes!)

2nd: Roast for 2 hours at 150˚C.  After two hours, the duck will be cooked and succulent but the skin will be pallid – crank up the heat until the skin crisps up.

3rd: Cut spring onions and cucumber into batons and set aside.  Remove the meat off the duck legs and slice up the breast meat, set aside.

4th: These are easily demolished with a drizzle of plum sauce over.

Pork and Prawn Dim Sum

img_41441st: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl; 200g pork mince, 100g peeled raw prawns, 2 spring onions finely chopped, a thumb-size piece of ginger grated into the mix, a dash of soy sauce, a dash of rice wine, squeeze of limb and a couple of table spoons of corn flour.  Season with salt and pepper.  Coriander is optional.

2nd: Use bought gyoza or wonton wrappers.  Place a small spoonful of the mixture into the centre of each gyoza circle, fold in half and crimp the edge.

3rd: Place each dim sum onto a carrot slice and sit in the steamer.  After 10-12mins, the dim sum will look translucent.  Dipping sauce can be made with soy sauce and a couple of drops of sesame oil.

Pork filled Chinese Bao Buns

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1st: Mix together 1 tbspn yeast, 1 tspn sugar, ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup of warm water.  Mix and allow to stand for 30mins.

2nd: Mix in ½ cup of warm water, 1½ cups of flour, ¼ tspn of salt, 2 tbspns sugar, 1 tbspn veg oil and ½ tspn of baking powder.  Leave to stand for 2½ to 3 hrs.

3rd: Punch down dough, and kneed for 5mins.  Cut the dough into 12 equal sized balls and leave to stand for 30mins.

4th: Roll out each ball and place a generous tspn of your chosen filling (we used a slow cooked asian pork recipe from sortedfood.com).  Rest the dough in your hand and gather the edge of the dough and crimp at the top.  Using a chopstick, open a steam-hole in the centre of the gathered dough.  Steam for 15mins.

Gong Xi Fa Cai – Happy New Year!

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Licking my lips, I alighted from the Heathrow Express at Paddington and made my way to the Southbank Centre to check out the Cheese and Wine Festival.

Having arrived late-afternoon (I had just flown in from Gib!) I had missed the ‘food theatre’ and even though there were not many people jostling around the food stalls it was still good to see the amount of different artisan cheeses on display; I tried a few mature cheeses that bit back!  There was other produce too: ice-cream, cider and ales.

IMG_2594Clutching a pint of cider I made my way around the food stalls (approx 20 in total) and stopped at a small Italian stall that didn’t look as if were attracting that many people.  Here I selected a ‘Cheeseburger’ wrapped in pancetta to eat on the spot.

This was wonderful – a hard goat’s cheese wrapped in pancetta and placed on a hot grill; cooked until the bacon was crispy and the cheese warmed through!

With a belly full of cheese and cider I then made my way to meet up with some friends who were looking forward to playing along with the theme of ‘Foodie Weekend.’

After several ales at different pubs including a really hoppy Ruby Red at the Jerusalem Tavern,

StJohn

Clerkenwell and some fruit of the vine at Vinoteca before dinner, we made our way to St John Restaurant and Grill.

Now this place is very unsuspecting from the façade as it looks like a butcher’s shop or even an industrial building.  However, you should not be fooled by this as a lonely Michelin star graces each dish that you eat.  A fantastic nose-to-tail eating experience with seasonal dishes such as Roasted Bone Marrow on toast, the understated Terrine (made with offal -superb!) and Braised veal with chickpeas.

If you ever get the chance to dine here do so.  I was left wanting more!

On Saturday after a quick walk through West Hampstead’s Farmer’s Market – again full of beautiful home grown, artisan produce, I made my way to Food at 52 where I attended a food course.

Food at 52

Food at 52 is like walking into a friend’s house and sitting in their lounge whilst you can smell the comforting scents of food wafting up from the kitchen.  As you meet your other ‘friends’ you start to get to know eachother’s reasons for being there.  Most of us had the experience bought as a birthday present or as a wedding gift but talking to John, they get lots of corporate clients.

Once in the kitchen, John and Jess provide coffee/tea and freshly made biscotti so that you can all introduce yourselves to eachother as this is a relaxed homely environment.

Working together we combined forces and produced a beautiful meal that we all sat down to at the end of the afternoon.

One of my favourite recipes that day was the Cauliflower Cake:

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At first I was slightly taken aback by this, as the idea of cauliflower, as anything other than in its veg form as part of the meat and 2 veg Sunday roast, left me thinking of water-logged cauliflower cheese that people always tell you tastes great but really is a bit blah!

But I was the only greedy person at the table to eat two slices!

The ritual of putting it together, even though seemed complicated, was actually quite simple as I managed to rustle this one up from memory at home the other night.

I’m not saying it looked identical to the one we made at foodat52 but otherwise it tasted just as good!!

After a great day’s cooking at Foodat52, my friends took me to Arbutus, Soho, London to have dinner.  May I just say that everything on this menu appealed to me!  From their melon and vodka martini, to their squid and mackerel burger with razor clams right to its Pied et Paquets (lambs tripe, shoulder and trotters!) everything was amazing!

I’m hoping my friends never leave London so that I can keep on notching up  Michelin Stars!

So with a bellyful of 2-Michelin-Stars-worth-of-food, a host of new recipes to try at home and an increased passion for food, I came back from my Foodie Weekend, a very full but happy man!

Already looking at another cookery course – who’s in?

The pagans knew how to party!  They marked every festival with mirth and merriment but above all food.  Food playing a central part to their festivities.  So it isn’t really surprising that the Christians adopted this ethos before embarking upon a period of abstinence and denial.

Throughout the 40 days of Lent, people are called to fasting and prayer.  However, the week preceding Lent has become a time of merrymaking, culminating on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

One way to use up the eggs, milk and fats in the house is to add flour to make pancakes.

How to make the perfect pancakescrepes

  • 120g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 210ml milk
  • 90ml water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • butter/oil for frying

1st: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and create a well in the centre.  In a jug mix the milk and water.

2nd: Crack the eggs into the centre and beat into the flour.  Gradually pour the milk and water mixture until you get a smooth liquid.

3rd: Stir in the oil and allow to stand for approx 30mins.

4th: Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot and then add the butter or oil until the pan is slicked in the butter/oil.  I tend to drain the excess and then wipe nearly clean with a paper towel.  Lower the heat.  Keep checking the heat as you go as you need the batter to cook before you toss/flip it.

Through experience I normally have to sacrifice my first one to the pancake gods before my batch is to prove bountiful

By the time bubbles are forming and popping on top, and the edges look slightly dry the underside should be golden brown.  Only once golden will it be easy to slide the pancake around in the pan.

photoTo toss or not to toss?

All I can say at this stage is to give it a go.  Flipping a pancake is fun.  And that is what being in the kitchen should be about.  Don’t be afraid.  Tip the frying pan away from you and in one quick movement with a flick of the wrist, toss your pancake into the air towards you – always remembering that you need to try and catch it!!

If you are not going to toss it into the air – once the underside is golden brown you are going to need to flip the pancake over.  Slide a metal spatula quickly under the centre of the pancake and flip over quickly and purposefully.

 

 

Toppingscrepes1

  • Caster sugar and lemon juice
  • Nutella, bananas and hazelnuts
  • Jam (with an extra sprinkle of sugar!)
  • Golden syrup
  • Ice cream
  • Greek Yoghurt and honey

As these are more French crêpes than American hotcakes I wouldn’t go for maple syrup nor crispy bacon as it really does not work here.  Think sugary, chocolaty, rich, decadent and fattening, and you’re on the right track.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to give up sweets and/or chocolate for 40 days why not gorge on them until you’re ready to burst?!

Flipping marvellous!