#38 EASTER FOOD NEWS: Make, do and spend!

Make

Layer. Sandwich. Coat. Drizzle. Plonk…if you’re going to be making one thing this Easter, try my Mini Egg cake for Sainsbury’s. A guaranteed show stopper! SSSsssh it’s much easier than it looks!

mini-egg-cake-560_6bf6a12c5370bd09d16d4fc38905c324 Click here for recipe

Click here for video

Do

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Eat chocolate whilst burning off calories! What more do you want? Get yourself booked onto a Chocolate Ecstasy tour. There’s still a few places left on the Chelsea Tour on Easter Sunday – a one and half mile walk tasting the most exquisite chocolates as you go. The tour finishes with a sit-down mini chocolate tasting. HHuumm all that sitting and tasting – I’m not sure you burn off ALL those choccy calories. Oh well. Pass me a passionfruit salted caramel please. Tours from £30. www.chocolateecstasytours.com

And Spend!

choccywoccy doo dah book

For £25 you can get your hands on a copy of the gorgeous Chocolate, Cake & Curses from Choccywoccydoodah. Don’t expect recipes and secrets on how to sculpt ‘those’ gravity defying wedding cakes. This is more of an insight into the minds of those chocolate geniuses with inspiring stories and anecdotes from Christine Taylor and the team. Of course there are recipes to satisfy that need to cook up a choccy storm from Chocolate Pie to Chocolate Bread Pudding to Dripping Chocolate Millefeuille.

choccywoccydoodah

Getting lost in choclate heaven. Choccywoccydoodah, Carnaby Street, book launch.

Mini egg cake photo: Charlie Richards. Chocolate tour photo: www.chocolateecstasytours.rezdy.com

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#37 FOOD NEWS: Test shoot teaser

Lemoncello meringue cake

Test shoots are a great way to get experimenting! Baked alaska, come lemon meringue pie, come a cheeky dash of Italian Liqueur. This was one of those ideas that sounded great on paper but would it actually work?! The answer is thankfully, yes! The best bit is, you can prepare the sponge and lemon lemon layer way ahead. I can’t wait to see it when proper food photographer, Adrian Lawrence gets his hands on it!

37overhead meringue crop

Serves: 8-10
Prep: 30 mins, plus chilling and cooling
Cook: 25 mins

37Ingreds crop

4 lemons, juice and zest
290g unsalted butter, cubed
465g caster sugar
6 large eggs, plus 3 large egg whites
6 gelatine leaves
45ml shot limoncello (optional)
1tsp vanilla extract
115g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder

1 Grease a 1L Pyrex bowl with oil, then line with cling film, so the edges hang over the sides. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small microwavable  bowl and add the lemon zest.

37squeezed lemon

Add 175g of the butter and 175g of the caster sugar. Mix well.

37lemon curd design

2 Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins.

3 Meanwhile, heat the lemon mixture in the microwave on full power for 3 mins, stirring every 30 seconds, until the butter and sugar has melted.

4 Gradually add 4 beaten eggs, whisking continuously. Microwave on full power for a further 1 1/2 mins. Whisk well. Allow to cool for 1 minute, then return to the microwave and heat on full power for a further minute. Whisk well. Remove 3tbsp of the mixture, cover, and set aside.

5 Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves and place in a measuring jug. Pour over 200ml of just boiled water. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Top up with 150ml cold water. Gradually pour into the lemon mix, whilst continuously stirring. Stir in the limoncello, if using. Pour into the lined Pyrex bowl. Chill for at least 4 hours, until set.

6 For the sponge base, preheat the oven to 170’C, 150’C fan, gas 3. Grease and line an 18cm loose-bottomed sandwich tin. Beat the remaining butter with 115g of the caster sugar. Add 2 eggs one at a time beating well in between each addition. Fold through the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 mins.

37cake in lined tin

Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 mins. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on the wire rack. Level the surface with a serrated knife.

7 For the meringue, using an electric hand whisk, whip the egg whites until medium peaks form. Gradually trickle in the remaining sugar whilst continuing to whisk until stiff glossy peaks form.

37stiff glossy peaks

8 To assemble, preheat the oven to 230’C, 210’C fan, gas 8. Spread the top of the cake with the 3 tbsp of the reserved lemon curd mixture. Then invert the bowl of set lemon jelly on top of the cake.

37lemonjelly out of mould

Transfer to a flat baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Spoon over the meringue in swirling motions ensuring the jelly and sponge is completely enclosed. Bake for 4-6 mins until golden (for maximum control use a cooks blow-torch). Remove from the oven and chill for 20  mins to firm up before serving.

37final - slice

#36 FOOD NEWS: Costa v’s Poundland!

They say (whoever ‘they’ are), we’re shopping around more for our weekly food shop to find the best deals. With that in mind I thought I’d do this for my somewhat Britalian treat.

I love a little sit-down in Costa with a large cappuccino and the Victoria sponge-style Mini lemon and raspberry cake.

cappucino

vic sponge

At £2.65 for the cappuccino and £2.50 for the cake, this *cough, cough* little treat is more of a whacking great, big, fat indulgence. So I took a hop, skip and a jump over to neighbouring Poundland. Oh my! Here’s what a found!

1 Victoria sponge cake (enough to serve at least 6!) for er…. £1

cake and coffee crop

12 sachets of instant cappuccino for yes you’ve guessed it … £1

CAKE -17p per serving
COFFEE – 8p per serving
TOTAL – 25p per serving

That’s 20 Poundland cups of coffee and 20 slices of cake for my £5.15!!!

cake crop

I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship… tinned tomatoes, McVities Cheddars, Jayne Asher cake-pop holders, cupcake boxes, cake boards, *high visibility vests … Hhumm perhaps I should get back to Costa before I spend £10 on stuff I don’t need!

http://neilmossey.blogspot.co.uk – I can confirm I saw high-vis vests (and arm bands!)

Costa pics: www.costa.co.uk

#35 FOOD NEWS: Mum’s super 70’s savers!

shopping final I always remember loads of veg and good home cooking when I think of mealtimes as a kid. So, with a January budget to stick to and a new years resolution to eat more veg, me and mum grab a cuppa and chat through a typical weeks food from ‘the good ol’ days’ when anything that resembled granola was firmly meant for the budgie. I’m loving the retro shortcuts in this little lot! Make sure you stock up on them – recipes on links below.

SUNDAY – Roast chicken

Good sized chicken for a roast (this is going to make three meals), so spend out on a good quality free-range chicken. Serve with roast potatoes, carrots, Paxo stuffing balls, parsnips and Brussels sprouts (or the veg of your choice).

Retro shortcut: Paxo paxo final

MONDAY – Leftover chicken and leek pie

Fry leek, onion and mushroom, stir through the leftover chicken and Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup. Fill a homemade pastry case with the filling. Crimp the top to seal. Brush with milk and bake. Serve with cabbage and mash.

Retro shortcut: Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup campbells final

TUESDAY – Chicken broth

Boil the chicken carcass, with stock (made from 1 oxo stock cube) and veg, such as potatoes, parsnips, swede, carrots, onion (whatever veg you have – or possibly buy a stew pack) add a little Bisto for colour and cornflour paste to thicken (if necessary). This definitely sounds free-style: ‘add soup – packet or canned, until you have an appealing colour!’

Retro shortcut: Oxo stock cube oxo final

WEDNESDAY – 70s Spaghetti bolognese

(Italian In-Laws turn away now!) Make up a packet of (1 pint) Knorr minestrone soup with a little less water than stated on the packet. Fry off the mince with carrot and onion, drain off the excess fat. Stir through tomato purée. Add the minestrone soup, frozen peas (or sweetcorn) and mushrooms. Serve with spaghetti and grated cheddar.

Retro shortcut:  Knorr minestrone soup

THURSDAY – 3 bears pies Fry off mince with diced carrot and onion. Drain excess fat. Meanwhile make up a Bisto paste (!). Put 2-3 dessert spoons of Bisto in a cup and stir through a small amount of water until you have a paste, add to the mince, stirring. Cook for 3-4 mins. Roll out homemade shortcrust pastry. Cut out 7-8 circles (using a saucer as a template). Fill one half of each pastry circle with the mince, fold over and crimp to seal. Bush with milk and bake. Freeze any leftover pies. Serve with mash and veg.

Retro shortcut:  Bisto gravy granules bisto final 1

FRIDAY Grilled pork chops, tomatoes and chips (Friday treat).

SATURDAY Sausages with onion gravy, mash and cabbage.

Retro shortcut: Mum’s fave makes another appearance! Bisto gravy granules! bisto 2

The whole lot aside from store-cupboard staples, a packet of mince and a packet of sausages (which I already had) came to £33.10. I don’t think that’s bad! All meals will feed at least four – as there’s two of us I’ve included some freezer notes on some of the recipes. Very handy – I won’t need to cook hardly at all next week!

#34 FOOD NEWS: Christmas Jam J-art cocktails

cocktails Set me a challenge and I’m all over it! thinkmoney.co.uk handed me some old jam jars for up-cycling and said get creative and go forth to the kitchen! As it is the season to be merry, my thoughts turned to alcohol… naturally. ‘Here’s’ to festive jam-jar cocktails!

Cherry Christmas!

Mix 1tbsp caster sugar with 2tbsp desiccated coconut. Brush the rim of a jam jar with golden syrup and dip into the coconut mix. Fill the jam jar with a shot of vodka, a squeeze of satsuma juice and cherry juice to taste.

Penguin pool

1 shot Bombay sapphire – topped up to taste with ice-cold blue WKD.

Snow waa-hey!

Pour hot milk into a jam jar, add 3-4 squares of white chocolate and a measure of brandy. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Top with marshmallows.

For more fabulous Jam J-art visit

http://www.thinkmoney.co.uk/jam-jars/default.aspx

33 FOOD NEWS: Theo Randall’s Croccante with mascarpone cream

So it’s December the 1st  – Christmas has officially started, the twinkly lights are appearing, festive food markets are popping up quicker than you can say, ‘two mulled wines and a mince pie’. And best of all, TV cookery has also been given its annual Christmassy seasoning (and by the taste of this dessert – I am most definitely not complaining!).

Delve into Theo Randall’s delicious alternative to Christmas pud from 12 Chefs of Christmas:

unnamed

200g whole blanched (skinned) almonds (See Britalian Tip)
200g caster sugar
200g mascarpone
Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
50g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp Marsala or to taste
150ml double cream
3 punnets fresh raspberries

ingred strip

1 For the Almond Croccante, preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan. Spread the almonds on a small baking tray and roast for 5 mins until they are a light golden colour. Leave to one side. Put the sugar in a saucepan and add 1 tbsp water.

almonds strip

2 Cook, without stirring, on a medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a light golden colour. Add the almonds and carry on cooking for 1 min. Pour on to an oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and set. Roughly break up the croquante and put into a plastic bag. Bash with a rolling pin to break up. 

almond - bash

3 To make the cream, beat the mascarpone with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar and then beat in the Marsala. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

creams crop

4 Spoon the crema di mascarpone on to a serving dish. Scatter over the raspberries and sprinkle with almond croccante. 

side croccante crop

12 Chefs of Christmas is sure to get you in the festive spirit! Everyday at 11am this December, Food Network UK (Freeview 41, Sky 248, Freesat 149/151, Virgin 287). For more Christmas recipes go to http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/

Britalian Tip 

If you haven’t got enough whole blanched almonds (as I didn’t!). After baking them, stir through the toasted nuts of your choice to make up to 200g – I used toasted flaked almonds but you could simply use your favourite type of nut.

#32 FOOD NEWS: ‘Apple’ apple pies!

Every monday

Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Bueno and nutella…. the hazelnut is somewhat of a hero in Italy, so I’ve decided to take a piece of inspiration from Mr Ferrero and hidden a fruity hazelnut filling in the centre of these pies. With honey from Pollino National Park dotted throughout, I’ve hopefully given this British fave a little kiss from Italy. AND they’re shaped like an APPLE!

apple group

300g plain flour, sifted
Pinch salt
180g butter
3tbsp caster sugar
3tbsp runny honey
6 Granny Smith apples
100g Pre-soaked mixed fruit
40g roasted chopped hazelnuts
milk, for brushing
softly whipped cream, to serve (optional)

ingreds

1 Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl, rub between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through 1 tbsp of the honey, the sugar and 4-5 tbsp cold water. Turn out onto a work surface and knead quickly to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 mins.

pastry strip

2 Meanwhile peel the apples.

Peeled apples

3 Slice off the bottom to create a flat surface, then remove the core using an apple corer.

stuffing apples strip
4 Heat the remaining honey in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen. Mix the dried fruit with the nuts and 1 tbsp of the honey. Set aside.

5 Divide the dough into 6 x approx 90g pieces. Roll out the first piece on a lightly floured work surface, large enough to wrap around an apple.

Stuffing apples

6 Place the apple in the centre with the top of the apple facing down. Fill with the dried fruit mix. Brush the outside of the apple with the remaining honey.

7 Pull up the sides of the pastry, folding to follow the shape of the apple. The folds will mean there will be excess pastry at the bottom of the apple, slice off the excess and reserve.

Trimming pastry
8 Turn over, so the apple is the right way up and shape in your hands, smoothing out the folds as best you can. Repeat with the remaining apples, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

leaf trimmings

9 Roll out the reserved trimmings and use to cut out leaf shapes, brush the undersides with a little water and stick to the tops of the apples. Pierce the top with a skewer to allow the steam to escape. Chill for 10 mins.

Ready for oven
10 Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas 6. Brush the apples with the milk and bake for 30 mins (checking after 20 mins – if they are already a nice golden colour cover with a layer of foil for the final 10 mins). Serve with softly whipped cream, if liked.

#31 Food news: The best Italian deli in London

Forget gold rings – the real diamond of Hatton Gardens sits proudly at the top of Leather Lane like the crown jewels.

parma ham

Step out of the rain and into the sunshine! I used to work around the corner from Terroni & Son’s deli. In the heart of London’s Italian community – it was always a great place to have a browse, sometimes I’d even go in and get a coffee just for an excuse to stare at the Italian products and produce!

Shop

The perfect way to transport your mind to sunny, relaxing, Italian-Mamma-food-filled holidays in Italy: the rows of lemoncello, the hanging Parma ham (even if they are plastic – British health and safety at work I presume – rest assured the real McCoy are under the counter), the regional wine, steaming vats of pasta and the bowls of olives all help to give you that holiday feeling!

Open since 1878, London’s oldest delicatessen has just won the status as UK Parma Ham Specialist 2013, with Aldo Zilli presenting the award.

Aldo zilli

Of course this was celebrated in Italian style with more Parma ham canapés than you can imagine and some top-notch Prosecco!

Canapes

Go ‘ave a butchers! Terroni and Sons, 138-140 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1R 5DL  (great for those on engagement ring hunts, when it’s all too much drop in for a coffee or a bottle of Lemoncello – depending on how much you’ve spent!)

TOP 6 EASY PARMA HAM CANAPES 

1 Fig, Parmigiano and Parma ham wraps

Cut 12 slices of Parma ham in half lengthways. Wrap 12 fig halves in a strip of Parma ham. Top each with 1tbsp of grated Parmigiano cheese. Then wrap with the remaining Parma ham. Grill for 3-4 mins.

2 Parma prawns with mango salsa

Mix 1 ripe chopped mango, a small handful of finely chopped cucumber and 3 tbsp coriander. Fill 6 dessert spoons or ceramic soup spoons with the mixture. Top with prawns wrapped in Parma ham.

3 Tomato and Parma ham bruschetta

Drizzle 6 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes. Grill for 1-2 mins. Serve topped with Parma ham

4 Parma ham, avocado and goats cheese

Drizzle 8 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with a slice of avocado, crumbled goats cheese, basil and a slice of Parma ham

5 Melon and Parma ham sticks

Cut 1/2 honeydew melon into 2cm cubes, wrap the cubes in thin strips of Parma ham. Secure with a cocktail stick.

6 Ricotta, pesto and Parma ham blinis (pictured above)

Top 12 blinis with a little ricotta and pesto. Finish with basil leaves and Parma ham.

Visit prosciuttodiparma.com for lots of delicious Parma ham recipes (not just canapés!)

#30 Food News: Britalian Kitchen opens its doors to Hersham’s answer to Posh & Becks!

Every monday

I like to go for a menu that I know means I can enjoy the party (well a good old catch-up with our mates Nic & Dave – who happen to look a bit like posh and Becks). Who wants to be running out to attend to a flaming souffle or cracked Macarons? Definitely not me.

nic and dave - crop

 

Britalian Kitchen’s crispy mushrooms with Italian flag dip

This is what is what I’m talking about. Prepare the pea dip ahead. Everything else takes minutes to prepare and cook when you need them

Jamie’s Hunter’s chicken stew

As the man himself says, ‘It looks after itself in the oven.’ Always a winning attribute for me when having guests.

Ingredients - strip1

2 kg chicken jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
1/2 a bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives stoned
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes

1 Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed garlic clove of garlic cover with the wine and leave to marinade for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Chicken legs

2 Preheat your oven to 180’C/ 350’F/ gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off the excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over [I didn’t have a large enough flameproof oven pan, so I transferred the meat into saucepans for this stage] and put to one side.

chicken hob crop

3 Place the pan [or the largest saucepan you have] back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, the add the achovies, olives and tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness of foil [or bring to the boil, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with the foil] and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

chicken cooked

4 Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir to taste and add a little salt and pepper if neccessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad [and bread for mopping up all those lovely juices!], or some cannellini beans, and plenty of Chianti.

Recipe: Pollo alla cacciatora from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver

Britalian kitchen’s cheat’s panacotta with couture chocolate curls

And for dessert, another one to prepare ahead. Just whip them out when you’re ready [the desserts!].

#29 FOOD NEWS: Move over Montalbano!

Every monday


arlesford sign

There’s no announcements for severe delays or instructions to stand clear of the closing doors. No need even to mind the gap. Set in the 1920s, after witnessing ‘murder at The Ultimate DeMise Hotel’ in the waiting room of Arlesford train station, we board a Thomas the Tank Engine style steam train to solve the murder whilst enjoying a 3 course meal.

car detective actors watercress

Good old honest food; tomato soup followed by lamb chops and mint sauce, topped off with a slice of cherry pie.

lamb n cherry pie

With a detective pack of clues, the actors and actresses pass through the train for you to grill them. The most difficult bit for me was trying to think of clever questions when my cherry pie arrived. I just wanted to shout, ‘OMG! Nom nom nom!’ Hhhuumm not very 1920s.

actress train lamp

Points are given for guessing the correct killer and motives. Lucky my very intelligent sister-in-law was on our team; The Montalbanana’s (I helped with the name). We came joint 3rd with 26/28 points! Whoop! Whoop! Oh… I mean jolly-good show.

end result crop

Great for a night out with a difference, there’s 4 murder mystery evenings a year. Understandably popular. Book early! Watercress line murder mystery

Make a weekend of it

The Angel is a comfortable Citylodge hotel with free parking and wifi (and a 24 hour bar! I’m not sure if you’ll get a Bombay Sapphire but it’s perfect for a little night cap). A fifteen minute drive to Arlesford station. It costs around £49 per night for a double room, plus an extra £7.50 per person for a delicious full-English breakfast.