September, 2010

Sep 10

Wild harvest


This week is going to be a first for me. Foraging is one of those mystical food arts I’ve somehow managed to avoid all this time; an aversion to mud and fields may have something to do with it or perhaps it’s my choice of living location.

I’ve moved house and with Borough Market five minutes up the road my foraging is often limited to a scour round the market for interesting and unusual things.

However, I’m off to Dorset to The Wild Garlic restaurant to go foraging with Mat Follas, winner of Masterchef 2009. Not only will he be sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge with me but also taking me hand diving for scallops off the coast of Beaminster. A chilly but brilliant treat – I can’t wait, particularly as he’s promised to cook us a spot of supper afterwards!

For a bit more info on the courses Mat runs check the website link above and for more info on my escapades watch this space.


Sep 10

Wedding fare

What a week and what a wedding. My little sister (no pressure on me, of course) has just got married and is currently in the wilds of Africa somewhere with her lovely new husband. We were so fortunate with the weather (the wedding happened on Saturday) and the sun shone all day with just the merest hint of rain in the early evening.

As my family are all rather food obsessed, the meal was something that was given great consideration. We used a company that, it transpired, Jamie Oliver had just bought and the food reflected this. Beautiful crostini were brought out as canapés with crab and chilli or smashed cannellini beans or heritage tomatoes; then long planks of olivewood arrived laden with antipasti, cured meats, grilled vegetables, grilled peaches with bresaola and blue cheese, fat green olives and tins of bread drizzled with pesto and parmesan.

We opted for family style food for the mains – spiced chicken grilled under a brick, hot smoked and roasted salmon with chilli, sweetcorn and avocado salsa, Italian style coleslaw, delicious panzanella (the glorious Tuscan bread salad) and green salad with a creamy dill dressing – to name but a few. Puds were equally fantastic – a take on Eton mess and a chocolate tart with grilled figs – both triumphs.

Think I may have to go on a diet for a couple of weeks. But who am I kidding.

Sep 10

Tea time, mark II


As promised, a second tea post. If you tried my suggestion for flavouring a panna cotta with jasmine tea then you’ll know all about its floral notes, delicate perfume and ethereal taste. If you haven’t tried it, no excuses! Whip up a batch and serve with the new season’s apples caramelised in a little butter and sugar.

On to the latest jasmine tea inspired creation, which I cannot lay claim to creating, but instead have borrowed from Henrietta Lovell, the tea lady from my previous post.

I posted on twitter to get some great cocktail ideas in and she tweeted me with a simple, late summer idea that was inspiration, delicious and above all, quick and easy to make. This is a short, silky cocktail that should be served very cold

Click here for my recipe for jasmine and elderflower

Sep 10

Tea time



I make no secret about the fact I rarely have hot drinks. It seems to raise looks of consternation and disbelief amongst my friends – what, you don’t drink tea in the morning? No coffee fix? The short answer is no – the occasional espresso after dinner or poured over vanilla ice cream being the exception. But being great friends with the finest tea lady in the UK has changed all that. Her tea is inspirational, delicious and decadent, flavourful, luxurious and more-ish.

Henrietta’s latest tea is an old school British tea blend she has created in honour of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It’s for a good cause too – 7 per cent of your money
goes to the RAFA Wings Appeal and 3 per cent goes to supporting the RAF museum and the organisation’s proud history. In her own charming, quirky words (and she is one of the most charming and quirky people I know) it’s “
calming in times of national peril. Fortifying when courage is required.” Very British.

It’s on sale on her website and from Sainsbury’s. A fantastic tea for a very good cause. Check back next week for a brilliant idea Henrietta gave me for a cocktail – white tip jasmine tea shaken with ice, elderflower, gin and sugar syrup and served icy and short.

Sep 10

A passion for puddings


Creme brulee or burnt Cambridge cream – call it what you will, this pudding is one of the most exquisite and luxurious around. Added to which it’s earth-shatteringly simple to make with astoundingly delicious results – my kinda pud.

It does involve making a custard or crème anglaise, but without the hard part when one cooks out the custard to the right consistency – the point at which most people end up with sweet scrambled eggs and a slightly annoyed, exasperated look on their face.

The trick with crème brulee is that it is cooked in a bain marie (a water bath) in a very low oven until it reaches setting point. It’s ideal for dinner parties as all this can be done way in advance, the pud chilled down and set in the fridge and all you need do is blowtorch or grill a layer of sugar on top until it caramelises and bob’s your uncle – the smoothest, most decadent pud around. It might even be a panna cotta beater.

This is an adaptation of a Marco Pierre White recipe – although don’t tell him, he’ll probably throw something sharp at me! The addition of passion fruit, one of my favourites, gives an added dimension and crunch to the finished puddings.

Click here for my recipe for passion fruit crème brulee

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