Sunday, July 29, 2012

Recipe: Yellow courgette and Butterbean Soup with Red Pesto

This is a dish which I made from some of the lovely yellow courgettes i brought back with me from France, and a jar of red pesto I had in the cupboard that I think was part of a hamper that I won a while back. I cant believe that i havent got any of my own courgettes this year yet, the weather has been so terrible! Normally by now i'd be drowning in kilos and kilos of them! I've just got to hope for a late frost this year so i can get a good enough crop. "Red" pesto means usually that it is a pesto made of a mixture of tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and red peppers, but if you cant find any then just use sundried tomato pesto. Also of course, normal green courgettes can be used in this recipe instead of yellow.

Yellow Courgette and Butterbean Soup with Red Pesto (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 fresh (or 2 dried) bay leaves
1 tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
100g red pesto
300g (about 1 large) yellow courgette, diced finely
300g frozen peas
Large handful fresh parsley, chopped
Large handful fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil

1. Fry the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil for 10 minutes on a low heat, until soft. Add the veg stock and bay leaf and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add the butterbeans, courgette and pesto and cook for a further 10 minutes.
3. Add the peas and herbs and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve with some shredded fresh basil, grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Competition: Tried and's Summer 2012 Recipe Winner!

Hey guys. So just before I went on holiday I won myself another competition- Tried and Tested Recipes Summer recipe competition! I've shared a few recipes on that site hoping to win, and this time my Aloo Matar won it! I won £35 worth of Amazon vouchers, which actually I'm not sure what i'm going to spend it on yet, but i expect it will be put to good use and spent on text books for Uni 2nd year. Or, to be fair, if it comes out before then i'll end up spending it on the next World of Warcraft expansion (lol, i'm such a dork!!).

Tried and Tested recipes is a great site actually, it's American so you have to convert the ounce/cup measurements, but i've tried a few recipes on there (the "fast and easy lime mousse" recipe is luuush!) and they are great. Here is the link to my winners page:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe: Raita

A "Raita" (pronounced RAY-EE-TAH) is an Indian yoghurt dish, served often as an accompaniment to spicy curries. Traditionally it is a mix of yoghurt, mint, cucumber and various other seasonings. Sometimes you may find varieties with cumin and/or fresh coriander in, but this is the simple traditional version.

300g Natural yoghurt
½ cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh finely chopped mint
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper or paprika for garnish

1. Mix all the ingredients together, season to taste, and serve with a sprinkling of cayenne or paprika for garnish! Perfect on the side of a tasty curry.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup with Wensleydale and Cranberry Toasts

This is a bit of an unusual lunch i made for myself yesterday- we've got a load of things to use up in the fridge before we go on holiday so i've been coming up with strange combinations. Actually I find that often a delicious recipe is discovered just due to the fact that there wasn't much in the fridge/cupboards and you just sort of "made something up". I still have loadddds of wensleydale with cranberries though, my boyfriend's brother gave us a huge chunk of it after he had a party. Thinking of maybe stuffing it into chicken breasts or something? Or maybe on a tart? Hurmmmm..... any way, I would fully reccomend trying out this unusual flavour combination, it really works!! By the way, i garnished the soup with some extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cumin seeds, but that was really just for presentation purposes.

Sweet Potato Soup with Wensleydale and cranberry toasts (serves 3)

1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
1 large red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp garam masala
1 bay leaf
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled cored and diced
1 litre vegetable stock
Splash of milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

3 large slices tiger bread
100g Wensleydale with cranberries

1. In a large saucepan, fry the onions, garlic and celery in the olive oil and butter for 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and bay leaf and cook for a further minute.
2.Add all the other ingredients (except the milk) and cook on a medium/high heat for 25 minutes. Blend (either in the pan with a hand blender, or in a liquidiser), season to taste, and add some milk if necessary to get the desired texture.
3.Meanwhile, toast the slices of tiger bread in a toaster. Heat a grill on to high, top the toast generously with the Wensleydale and put under the grill for a couple of minutes, or until beginning to brown. Serve with the soup.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Competition: Turkey Masterclass with Marco Pierre White!!

Hey guys, remember that recipe I entered into Britmum's and Lean on Turkey's competition a few weeks ago? Well, I won it!! My spiced turkey burgers with avocado relish won me £250 and a personal masterclass with Marco Pierre White!
I was terribly excited about this, as not many people know but Marco Pierre White was the youngest British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. So before he was a celebrity chef he most definitely was a "real chef"!, haha! Me and three other food bloggers attended the masterclass in south london on tuesday, and we all had a great time, and got to know Marco off camera which was fascinating.
I asked him a few cheeky chef-y questions, including whether he had worked with many women in professional kitchens, and what he thought of women in the Michelin industry. He said the main reasons why there are less women in kitchens is because a)physical strength (i agree with this as I often have to get the boys to help me out with carrying heavy trays/stockpots, and pulling fridges out) and b) high emotions. He said that women often take comments in the kitchen a bit closer to heart than men, whilst with heated comments during the middle of service men often forget or dont think that it means much. I think i would have to agree with this too, and he said it's also mainly these two reasons that women in michelin kitchens often get pushed onto larder or pastry, because the men feel that they can get away with doing this. I also mentioned that Nick used to be a chef in Ilkley, where Marco attained his first michelin star at The Box Tree. He asked whether he was still a chef now, I said no, he works in I.T, and he said "Ah, he got out of it then, clever boy!".
He's a very honest guy and I like that. I asked him if he missed being a "real chef" (as in working in kitchens) and he basically said "Hell no!"- which would be exactly the same thing i would say if i had managed to get out of kitchens and on to TV. He's not as stern as he is on television but you could tell when he went into "camera mode" because he squinted his eyes a bit more, spoke slower and more sharper, and waved his knife about a bit more (something he does, he told us, to manage to speak clearly in front of the camera, like a sort of speaking aid)! All that stuff is for his tv image, for the camera- just like Ramsey and his swearing I suppose.

As this was a masterclass, involved with Bernard Matthews, he of course showed us a few delicious recipes using turkey. He also used knorr stock pots in all of his dishes, because he is of course also the face of Knorr at the moment, as well as Bernard Matthews (busy man!). He made us a turkey bolognese, a roast turkey waldorf salad, a turkey thai green curry, a turkey and leek casserole and a turkey milanese. My fave was the bolognese i think, because he added lots of chilli and some dark chocolate into the ragu so the flavour was lovely and intense.
At the end of all the recipes and filming, we all got given a copy of Marco Pierre White's latest cookbook- Marco Made Easy, which he signed. I had a full read of the book on the train home- It focuses on using really nice good quality ingredients, and then the rest of the ingredients in the recipe are items you would find in your store cupboards- mustard, worchester sauce, red wine vinegar etc. Like theres a whole section on steak- you go out and buy your favourite cut of steak, and then theres all these recipes in the book on what you can do with that steak with just items from the cupboard. I like the style, it's different. Once we'd done all the promotion photos (the photos i've put in the blog are taken by Sammie Hodges- one of the other winners- I havent been emailed the photos the bernard matthews people took yet) and we were all about to leave, the crew were just like "Mel, could we speak to you for a moment?". I was thinking OH GOD what have I done now? Lol! Nah, turns out they liked the way i was in front of the camera with Marco, so they asked me to do a little interview about what i thought about turkey and why Britain should be eating more of it. One of the camera guys said "theres a little bit of a food presenter in you isn't there?", which made me pretty happy- because as we all know, i am the next big celebrity chef, it just aint all confirmed yet, haha!!
Then I started my rather chaotic journey home, which involved the train being 20 minutes out of Paddington, before stopping for no reason, and then an announcement came through the train saying "We have stopped and are delayed due to a fatality". The whole carriage groaned, and I had to ask the guy next to me "What does fatality mean?" and he said " theres been a jumper"!!! Couldn't believe how not bothered everyone was by this, as if it happens all the time! Anyway, despite getting back to Bath very late, i had a wonderful day with Marco Pierre White and shall never forget it! Will post up the promo video once they've edited it all and got it up online!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recipe: Bel Potato Dauphinoise

Very simple dish, with only a few ingredients, resulting in a big punch of flavour! If you love garlic, and you love creamy french style dishes, this is the dinner for you. This is another recipe I have developed for Bel, which they are very happy with, as it uses Boursin as well as Leerdamer (both products that their company manufactures). Again, instead of boursin cuisine, use 150g of the the normal garlic and herb boursin you get in the shops, and add 60ml more double cream (dare i say it!). I'm hoping to get another delivery of Bel cheese soon- this time i'm hoping for a load of leerdamer, i've got some funky recipe ideas for it.

Bel Potato Dauphinoise (serves 6)

900g potatoes (maris piper work well), peeled and sliced thinly
240ml double cream
200g Boursin Cuisine
Handful fresh parsley
Black pepper
2 slices (50g) Leerdamer mature, finely diced

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. In a mixing bowl, combine the double cream, boursin, parsley and black pepper until a smooth consistency is reach.
2. In a baking dish, layer up half the potatoes, then pour half the cream mixture on top. Layer up the other half of potatoes; pour over the remaining cream mixture (making sure all the potatoes are covered). Cover the dish tightly with tin foil, and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, remove foil, top with the diced Leerdamer and bake in the oven for a further 30 minutes. Put under the grill for a few minutes in order to brown the top. Serve!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recipe: Satay Noodles

This is a recipe I cooked for my mum and my brother- all of us love satay sauce, and always order an extra pot of it whenever we get a chinese takeaway, so i thought i would have a go at making my own. Still havent got it to the same recipe as my fave chinese place, but this dish is still delicious. I dished this up for my vegetarian mum, but then for me and my brother I mixed in some leftover roast chicken, so it kept the meat eaters and the veggies in the family very happy last night. Whats also nice is that it doesn't require any hard to find asian ingredients, just things you would normally find in your store cupboards.

Satay Noodles (serves 3)

Satay Sauce:
40g crunchy peanut butter
20g sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce (plus extra for garnish)
2 tbsp water

3 stacks Sharwoods medium egg noodles
2 tbsp oil (plus extra for noodles)
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, julienned
100g sugar snaps, julienned
¼ tsp garlic powder
Fresh coriander and sesame seeds for garnish

1. Mix together the satay sauce ingredients until it is well mixed and smooth. Meanwhile, cook the noodles 1 minute less than the packet instructions states. Drain well, toss in oil (to avoid the noodles sticking together) and set aside.
2. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in a wok until very hot. Stir fry the spring onions, sugar snaps, carrot and garlic powder for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the noodles and satay sauce, remove from the heat, and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
3. Season to taste, and garnish with fresh coriander and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Recipe: Chicken, Ham and Pea Risotto

This is by no means a traditional risotto recipe but it's certainly a tasty one. It's good recipe for using up cold cuts,such as after Christmas, for example. I've just come back from Yorkshire and, like normal, my boyfriend's mum sent us packing with a joint of beef, and a load of roast chicken and ham. I know that in normal risotto recipes you are supposed to add the stock gradually, but since my boyfriend doesn't like his risottos al dente, I just chuck it all in at the same time. It's a less authentic way of doing it but also less fussy I suppose.

Chicken, Ham and Pea Risotto (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
150g risotto rice
600-700ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
100g cooked (leftover roast if possible) chicken
50g diced ham
100g frozen peas
1 rounded tsp Philadelphia
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan shavings for garnish

1. Fry the onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil for 6 minutes. Add the rice, stir in, and then add the stock and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often.
2. Add the chicken and ham, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the peas and Philadelphia, and cook for 2-5 minutes, or until all of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Season to taste and serve with parmesan shavings!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recipe: Leerdamer, Ham, and Asian Pickled Vegetable Baguette

Hey guys. So sorry it's been a while (a week! Jeez- I really do owe you guys an apology!) since my last post, but i've had so much going on lately I haven't had time to get on to my computer! I've been on holiday in France for a couple of days (for the Django Reinhardt festival) and then up in Yorkshire (Ilkley) visiting mates and seeing my boyfriends mum for another couple of days. And then actually the day before all that I had a masterclass in London with no other than Marco Pierre White!!(which I will tell you guys all about once i've got some promo photos of me and him to show off to you all!).

This is another one of my recipes that i've developed for Bel, and also for the British Sandwich Association, as this year is the 250th anniversary of the sandwich! According to the British Sandwich Association, a sandwich is classed as "Any form of bread with a filling, generally assembled cold - to include traditional wedge sandwiches, as well as filled rolls, baguettes, pitta, bloomers, wraps, bagels and the like, but not burgers and other products assembled and consumed hot", and so this recipe and also my pulled bbq beef toasties are definitely classed as proper sandwiches! Again, in this recipe I have used Leerdamer mature slices, but feel free to use normal leerdamer or leerdamer light slices instead.

Leerdamer, Honey roast ham, and Asian pickled vegetable baguette (serves 4)

For the pickled vegetables:
90g peeled and julienned carrot
90g julienned seeded cucumber
Small handful fresh coriander, stems and leaves finely chopped
35ml rice vinegar
20g sugar
Splash of soy sauce
½ tsp crushed ginger
Salt to taste

For the baguette:
40g butter (or low fat margarine)
4 demi-baguettes
8 slices (200g) Leerdamer mature, sliced in half diagonally.
150g wafer thin honey roasted ham

1. In a bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger and salt, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Mix into this the carrots, cucumber and coriander well, and marinate covered for at least an hour.
2. Once the vegetables have marinated, spread four halved demi-baguettes with butter, and fill with equal amounts of ham, Leerdamer and pickled vegetables. Serve!

NB: For Caterers, the pickled vegetables can of course be made in bulk, and have a two day shelf life. This baguette can be sold on its own, or can be sliced in half and served with salad, fries, coleslaw, or even a mug of soup as part of a lunch deal.