saumon de mon père (Dad’s Dinner)

This is another interpretation from The Fat Duck. The original is slightly better – liquorice poached salmon, individual grapefruit cells, caviar……. But budget and time allowing this is my version – my dad likes it so much, he requested that I named it after him when I made it one evening for supper

Saumon de mon père (Dad’s Dinner)


Ingredients (serves 2)
Balsamic Glaze
100ml balsamic vinegar
half a fish stock cube
50ml water
Vanilla Mayonnaise
[290ml/½ pint groundnut oil
2 eggs, yolks only
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 heaped tsp powdered mustard
1 level tsp salt
freshly milled black pepper
1 tsp white wine vinegar ] – or 3tbsp Helmanns
1tsp vanilla extract
½ vanilla pod
Salmon
2 Salmon fillets, boneless
Braised leeks
1 leek
black pepper
butter
Fennel Chips
3 potatoes
2tsp fennel seeds
500ml sunflower oil
To serve
½ lemon
Sorrel leaves, picked


1.     For the balsamic glaze, place the Balsamic, stock cube and water in a pan and whisk until stock cube is dissolved over a high heat until bubbling, simmer for a minute then remove from the heat
2.    For the Mayonnaise, put the egg yolks into the basin, add the crushed garlic, mustard powder, salt and a little freshly milled black pepper. Mix all of these together well. Then, holding the groundnut oil in a jug in one hand and an electric hand whisk in the other, add drop of oil to the egg mixture and whisk this in. Continue this process ONE DROP AT A TIME- the mixture will begin to thicken and go very stiff and lumpy. When it gets to this stage you need to add a teaspoon of vinegar, which will thin the mixture down. Now the critical point has passed, you can then begin pouring the oil in a very, very thin but steady stream, keeping the beaters going all the time. When all the oil has been added, taste and add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Measure out 3tbsp of the mayonnaise, to this add the vanilla extract and the vanilla pod seeds, scraped out and mix, pour into a piping bag and chill *(see tip)
3.    For the chips Slice the potatoes lengthways into oblong rings, then slice into thin chips, approximately 1cm-1.5cm thick. Place in water with the fennel seeds and bing to the boil, boil for 2mins then drain and leave to steam.
4.    Meanwhile for the leeks, gently score the leek down the side to enable you to peel off the first layer, remove the top section and you should be left with a piece which flattened forms a large rectangle. Repeat with the next layer. Then slice the rest at an angle and place face downwards in a shallow frying pan, add a knob of butter and the black pepper and place on a low heat and cover, do not stir. Cook for 4mins then turn off the heat leaving them covered.
5.    For the salmon, cover in warm (not boiling) water and leave for 6mins changing the water twice, until the salmon feels firmer but hasn’t changed color.  Gently peel off the skin using a sharp knife and pat dry. Paint on the glaze thickly reserving half.
6.    For the chips, heat the oil in a deep pan until a piece of bread sizzles when dropped in. Fry the chips in two batches until golden brown, turning carefully with a spoon with holes.  Drain and keep warm in the oven till serving.
7.    To Serve, slice the lemon and peel fully, you should be left with 6 segment sections for each slice. Place the two leek rectangles in the microwave with 1tbsp water for 1min on high. Put the salmon in the oven for 4-5mins 250oC. Boil the balsamic glaze for 2mins on high, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, immediately place in pipette bottle.
8.     Lay the two leek rectangles on two square plates in the center and place the lemon segments artistically dotted around on top. Place a line of the braised leeks at an angle, face down, on the right side of the plate, leaving a 2cm gap between the leeks and rectangle. Pipe dots of the mayonnaise at 1cm intervals down both sides of the rectangle, then dot drops of the glaze in between. Gently remove the salmon and place on top of the lemon segments, and garnish with the sorrel. Serve with the chips in a bowl alongside.
*TIP turn the ends of the bag over on itself and hold the tip open with your fist, fill then squeeze mixture to the tip, twist the bag at the open end and leave. Keep the pressure of the twist all the time while using the bag.

Hestons Version

My Version

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Ferraro Rocher Cupcakes

I admit that I do not post enough sweet recipes to this blog despite having an intensely sweet tooth (I would always pick pudding over starter). I love making desserts – desserts is my favourite part of the meal because they give you the scope to be the most creative. You can mix sweet and savoury, you can shape almost anything (see the cake section), there are never constraints what you have to put on the plate and most of all it can have chocolate in it. Desserts are works of art and taste bloody good – I’m afraid this is why I believe food is a much higher form of art than a one off effort on a painting in the Tate modern. Plus I am pretty sure someone will soon come out with proven scientific research that baking is the most effective form of stress release and antidepressant.  So here is a decadent cake for a chocolate lover, not only is it beautiful but it combines probably every good thing god created (minus peanut butter and champagne) plus it has gold leaf on it, who wouldn’t eat anything with gold leaf on it?

Ferraro Rocher
Vanilla Cupcakes, Filled with hazelnut cream, a layer of chocolate, boiled milk nutella frosting with hazelnut pieces, drizzled with white and milk chocolate, sprinkled with wafer and topped with gold leaf.
For the Cupcakes
225 grams granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod
175 grams cake flour, not self-rising (Available in the UK only from American food shops)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
57 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
75 grams full-fat sour cream
60ml vegetable oil
1Tbsp vanilla extract
160 ml whole milk
1.Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
2.In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod.
3.Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure
to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
4.In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together
cake flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt.
5.Add the vanilla sugar and mix until well combined.
6.Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.  Because
there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
7.In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and
vanilla extract until smooth.
8.Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed
until just combined.
9.Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.  The batter
will be liquid. 
10.         Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
11.         Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They
are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it.  The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown.  If they are not done, test again in two minutes.  If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
12.         When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the
tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool.

For the Filling
240ml Whole Milk
2.5 Egg Yolks
55g Sugar
55g Cornstarch
2 teaspoons Hazelnut Liqueur
1.    In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
2.    Place over a low heat whisking gently just until the mixture bubbles, about 15 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in hazelnut liqueur.
3.    Press plastic wrap directly on the top of the cream and place in fridge to cool completely, approximately 2 hours.
4.    When cupcakes are cool, cut a small hole in the centre of the cake and fill with the filling.
For the Chocolate Layer
100g melted milk chocolate
1. When the cupcakes are filled, pour over a thin layer of melted chocolate and leave to set, meanwhile make the icing.
For the Frosting
240ml Whole Milk
3 tbsp Plain
A pinch of Salt
225g unsalted Butter
225g Granulated Sugar
1tbsp nutella
2tbsp hazelnuts, finely chopped
1.    Whisk flour into milk and place over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Cook mixture until thickened, whisking constantly.
2.    Remove from heat and whisk in the Salt.
3.    Pour into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap on the surface. (This will stop the cooking and the plastic will prevent crusting) Set aside to cool slightly.
4.    In a stand mixer, begin creaming the butter and sugar until fluffy.
5.    When milk mixture is slightly cooled; add 1 TB at a time to the creamed butter mixture while the mixer is running on medium speed. Slowly but surely the gluten will pull in the butter into a pseudo emulsion. Add the nutella and mix again.
6.    You should have an extremely fluffy, light and buttery frosting when completed
7.    Toast the hazelnuts dry. When cooled, stir through the frosting
8.    Place in a piping bag and pipe onto the set chocolate
To finish
Wafer crumbled
Melted milk chocolate
Melted white chocolate
Gold leaf
1.    Top the cupcake with the wafer pieces
2.    Drizzle the melted milk chocolate and white chocolate over the cupcake in lines
3.    Finally dab a piece of gold leaf on top

Snail Porridge (My version) -YOU MUST TRY THIS DISH

One of the best things about working in the fat duck was the things I learnt and what I picked up which I could then transfer into my everyday cooking. For example, you try going to the shops and buying a sous vide machine on a student budget, let alone find the time to individually separate grapefruit cells while trying to meet a deadline. But the brilliant thing about the fat duck is it isn’t just a show of conjuring tricks (hot and cold tea – just wow), foam for foams sake. It also has some of the most inspired texture, flavour and smell combination. While creating a dish, Heston thinks about every aspect and the overall sensation, no sense is more important than another, the dish should look aesthetically pleasing, it should impress with its innovation, but it should also taste pretty damn good. So I decided to spin a few of the recipes I saw being created to make them easier to create fast and easily, while maintaining the amazing flavours. Even if you are not a fan of snails (the snails are actually not essential in my version) YOU MUST TRY THIS DISH, think the warming sensation of porridge mixed with the flavour comfort garlic bread. 
Snail Porridge (My version)
Ingredients (serves 3 as a starter)
Snails
12 snails, shelled
butter
2 cloves garlic
Parsley Butter
3 cloves garlic
large bunch of parsley
200g butter
5 baby mushrooms
Fennel Salad
1 fennel head
1tbsp walnut oil
1tbsp white wine vinegar
Seasoning
To serve
150ml stock
100g oats
shavings of parma ham (optional`)
1.     For the butter, finely dice the garlic and mushrooms. Fry the garlic in 25g butter for 1min then add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Meanwhile pick the parsley from its stalks, puree in a food processor. Mix (using a electric whisk) the remaining butter, garlic mix and parsley and refrigerate.
2.     For the snails, melt the butter in a pan with 100ml water. Add the garlic cloves whole and bring to the boil. Add the snails for 2-3mins each. Remove and set aside.
3.     For the fennel salad, finely slice the fennel with a mandolin, toss in the oil and vinegar and season.
4.     To serve, heat the butter in a pan till melted. Add the oats, then the stock in two batches, whisking with a fork throughout. Cook for 2-3mins then place in small dishes. Carefully place the parma ham on top then top with a handful of fennel salad and serve. 

A Dean’s Dinner

A Dean’s Dinner
            ‘The Dean is coming to dinner on Saturday’ my mother announces walking in to the kitchen on Thursday, ‘would you mind???” I know my place. I also know I would not be keen for the reputation of the cooking in this household to be totally ruined, especially because the Dean is a fellow foodie. The limitations are as follows, I have two days only, I would like to join in the fun and chat and we need little to no leftovers because we leave for Lincoln the next morning. Challenge accepted. So I do my research on the Great British Menu website and find three manageable recipes that appear to fit all my restrictions.
            I find recipes can be adapted as to how you feel, but sometimes they can be useful. When following recipes I tend not to measure things out and often if I think extra herbs or spices should be added I do. For the first course – Scallops with celeriac and truffle puree, apple caramel and apple jelly- http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/scallop-celeriac-recipe– I learned the best way to cook scallops perfectly. 30secs on a searing heat before flipping them and putting them in the oven for 1 min, every time.

            The Duck course was the biggest success, further proof that often the simplest dish can be the most effective if the flavours are right. Duck with braised lettuce, pea and bacon. If anybody is planning on going on come dine with me anytime soon I strongly advise you take a similar view to me and always slow cook, because the most irritating thing to do during a dinner party is frazzle your hair, melt your make up and set the fire alarm off while overcooking a piece of meat. http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/slow-cooked-gressingham-duck-legs-recipe
For the carb garnish I turned to Nigella, a women who taught me that butter is the answer to everything with her really quick roast potatoes, another cheat. The only thing I did different from her simple method of deep frying gnocchi was use a dash of truffle oil and add garlic to the oil for flavour, delicious.
            For the final course I wanted to do something unusual (although I’m not sure anything can top the pigs ears I once insisted upon serving up for one of my parents dinner parties, thank you so much to them for putting up with that). I chose an Avocado mousse with dark chocolate ganache but decided that that simply wasn’t enough. http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/avocado-lime-chocolate-parfait-recipeSo I accompanied the dish with a raspberry coulis, chocolate shard and pine nut brittle for added crunch, surprisingly delicious. (although it did melt a little in the heat of the kitchen). 

Macarooooon

Macarooooon
            My mother had the wonderful opportunity this year to work in Paris for a couple of weekends. Being the fair, equal rights sort of person that she is, we each got a weekend. She first took my dad (only fair, he is the oldest), then my sister got a chance and finally me. The only issue was that she happened to pick the weekend right at the end of term, but just before choir tour so naturally all the musicians in the university had been in the pub the night before. I had to be in London early for the Eurostar so I of course just dragged myself out of bed without bothering with make-up or contact lenses or brushing my hair for that matter, figuring I could do that all on the train, and anyone up at that hour was crazy anyway so they wouldn’t care what I looked like. What I had failed to factor in was the large number of people with a similar agenda leaving Cambridge on the same train. Not only was there no space, let alone a seat for me to make myself look like a normal human being, but also I was forced to make conversation all the way down to London looking like a trampled hag.
            This wasn’t the only issue of the downward journey. I had forgotten my phone with the wilful ease of someone who believes a phone wouldn’t be necessary and that it might be nice to have a couple of days detoxing from constant communication. A brilliant idea but I now had no way to contact my mum who I was meant to be meeting somewhere in the vague interior of St Pancras. There was less than 30mins to go before the Eurostar left when I finally decided that I had no option but to ask the nearest policeman to borrow his IPhone, sometimes it helps to be an innocent looking girl.
            When we finally arrived in Paris I was left to wander while my mother did the work she was actually there to do. There was only one thing on my mind. Macaroons. I spent the entire afternoon on a blissful macaroon tour of Paris. I would spot a patisserie, wander inside, assess the quality of the macaroons and if I liked the look I would buy one (I think I totalled 8, which is a lot of sugar for one afternoon). There’s something about French macaroons that Marks and Spencers just can’t replicate. The flavour sensation is so much more vibrant and the texture is sublime. I find it hard to knock Pistachio off the top spot for flavour but the unique carrot and orange flavour I had at one place or the cassis from another almost did. In fact the only macaroon that disappointed (and we are talking very little as I find it hard to be disappointed in any macaroon) was the praline, it lacked the intense flavour of the others.
            All in all as I wandered round Paris I discovered one thing, the French are as obsessed with food as I am. They sell everything with either sexy poses or food. Handbags are surrounded by cupcakes and mannequins are adorned with baguettes. If only I had actually taken French GCSE I would happily move to Paris for good.

The Big Breakfast Dinner

The Big Breakfast Dinner
So the man who lives upstairs is coming to dinner…. (this isn’t as creepy as it sounds, there is actually a flat that is adjacent to ours).  The young man who lives upstairs frequently pops over clutching a bottle of red wine, for good food and conversation. The state of the fridge is as sorry as ever and the torrents of rain are encouraging me not to leave the house. On top of that I really need to tackle the bombsite that I have called my room for the past 3 years in an attempt to pack for my final year. There is little in the fridge aside from the chocolate making ingredients for birthday presents, at least there is some peanut butter ganache (150g Bourneville chocolate, 2 dollops of peanut butter, a pinch of cayenne melted together) that I can pass as sauce for ice cream for dessert. There is even a little pine nut brittle left over from the Dean’s dinner that would compliment this perfectly and I might even throw in a few frozen raspberries for colour, so dessert is under control.
            There is always the salmon. I feel bad that I seem to never give my parents any meat. I constantly construct my meals around fish and leftovers, and this is no exception. I spotted some mashed potato in the back and had the idea that to make things a little different I would make breakfast for dinner. I’ve never made potato pancakes before but I thought I would have a go. Potato pancakes, confit salmon, horseradish crème fraiche and green beans with almonds. So I begun by putting a good 3 inches of oil into a deep frying pan with a dash of truffle oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, peppercorns, a bay leaf and some salt. Then I whisked 2 eggs, 125ml milk, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vanilla extract and the mash together before adding a dash of baking powder and 75g flour to create my pancake batter. Then I mixed a large spoonful of horseradish into two spoonful’s of crème fraiche with black pepper and then I dry toasted some flaked almonds. Then I went to the gym, as you do.
            Feeling incredibly, virtuous, sweaty and fired up to the soundtrack of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, I set about finishing off the supper. It was quite a simple assembly job at this point. I set the oil to a low simmer and put the salmon in and covered it.

Meanwhile I heated a large frying pan with a knob of butter in it till melted then placed a few dollops of pancake mix in and cooked each for about 2-3mins on the bottom and 1min after flipping them. For the salmon I turned the salmon about 4mins in and cooked for a further 4mins before turning off the heat and leaving them to sit in the oil for a little. Then I steamed the green beans, drained and mixed them with the almonds and a grating of parmesan. It was quite tasty, but the pancakes could possibly have done with a drizzle of the salmon oil. Not quite breakfast but I think it’s time pancakes branched out to other meals. Is it awful to say I’m seeing the flip side of pancakes…..

                                          

Everybody needs good neighbours

Everybody needs good neighbours
            It is always an exciting moment when the neighbours come to dinner. I’d been asking my parents to throw a dinner party for ages and as an added bonus the neighbour is a fellow foodie! So since the Great British Menu website had been so successful for the Dean’s dinner I decided to replicate that success. They turned up for dinner with the man who lives upstairs thrown in for good measure and I started my cooking following a couple of glasses of champagne and a little conversation.
            My opening dilemma was that of the plates. I didn’t have enough for both starter and pudding of the square variety and my mothers suggestion that I just ‘wash them up’ led to a lecture from me that I wasn’t Cinderella and was in fact doing this party for them out of the goodness of my heart. (Who am I kidding, its more fun for me than them!) After this she kindly conjured up some extra plates from somewhere and preparation could begin. I pretty much prepped everything before(the biggest secret of my dinner parties). For the starter I had decided on goats cheese, beetroot and olive tuile. http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/goats-cheese-recipe-beetroot-black-oliveI made the mousse (filling my beloved piping bags) and chopped the beetroot with ease and the balsamic glaze was easy too. The tuile I approached with difficulty. My hands may be somewhat numbed thanks to years of thinking I was too good for oven gloves but it is still a challenge to shape tuiles when they are incredibly hot but harden as soon as they cool. I think if I made tuiles again I would invest in a silicon mat, because the hardest part was making the mixture thin enough on the baking tray and a silicon mat would have helped this process as well as allowing me to shape it without leaving burns all over my fingers. After about 7 attempts I had enough misshapen tuiles to pass off in the starter and actually felt rather proud that I had been teaching myself more diverse techniques. Yes they looked like slightly odd pieces of bark but I decided that added to the charm of the plate. I designed the plate once again in what my sister calls my Modrian style. 

            The main was my Achilles heel. The main course at the last party had been a little cold because I had taken too long plating up and here with my braised pork, wild mushroom and fondant potato it was going to be hard making the greyish meat look attractive. (I hasten to add here that apparently this was delicious, think pulled pork) http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/pork-neck-recipe-wild-mushrooms-wild-garlicThe other issue I had had earlier that week was the lack of wild garlic in early September. So I messed around a little with the recipe (apologies Christoffer Hruskova). Luckily there is a very good butcher and fruit and veg stall near where I live so I managed to get the pork neck (a lovely cheap meat by the way) and a lovely mix of wild mushrooms, dried. As a pitiful compromise for the lack of wild garlic I decided to use a mix of normal garlic and spinach. That and rehydrating the mushrooms overnight made up for the lack of ingredients plus the smell of the mushrooms was amazing as they rehydrated. I also substituted the berries with goji berries (apparently a superfood) and figured truffle was too expensive so used truffle oil instead. This was almost the most successful dish of the evening.
            However the real success was the mango millefeuille. For the main course my dad had opened the really good red wine and I was one glass down as I plated this up, I think it added to the overall rugged charm of the plate. An unusual dish, this veered away from my usual devotion to modern French style cooking. My dad was even keen on the caramelized chilli (I expect the gold leaf on top helped too, people are generally like magpies).  http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/caramel-mille-feuille-recipe-mango-chilliAdmittedly the pastry sheets I made were on the more obese side than the ones in Frances Atkins’ picture, and there was slightly less gold leaf, but the neighbor sent a nice card over afterwards so I must have done something right. 
(their photo not mine)

Truffled Bacon Pasta

Truffled Bacon Pasta
It’s only a few days till I go to Uni and I’ve been to London all day, for once the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. But mum and I have to eat. Because we have realised once I leave, virtually no-one is eating at home I decide that the only thing is to cook a simple pasta dish with what I can conceivably find in the freezer. The other problem is that my mum has headed out to help out at the schools ‘Boden evening’ – possibly the most middle class you can get – and I have no idea when she is back so a speedy dish is of the essence. The good news is dad is in France so we are allowed to have onions! There was a little cream and some bacon in the freezer – a carbonara would work rather well.
            When she finally walked in the door I was given my instructions with military precision, we had all of 15minutes before she returned to hoard the perfectly twee mums clothes that make up Boden. She was rather chuffed with her purchases, and at a discount. So I was looking for a very quick meal. I chopped up the half frozen bacon and fried it, simultaneously boiling pasta in another pan. I sprinkled a little salt on to the bacon and at this point spotted some dried mushrooms in the cupboard so I rehydrated them with a small amount of boiling water. When the bacon was crispy I added the whole lot of mushrooms and water to the pan, a little more salt, some chopped garlic and some dried herbs de provence. Thyme would be the best herb at this point but I had none. (pardon the pun) I let it bubble a little before adding a splash of sherry vinegar, some cream and a drizzle of truffle oil (my new favourite ingredient – lifts any dish). I added beans to the pasta’s last few minutes of cooking then poured a little pasta water into the sauce, drained the pasta and mixed the sauce in. Good thing there was enough leftover for lunch the next day – even better cold. 

Wot We Had in the Fridge

Wot We Had in the Fridge
            Yet again I return for one of my short visits home to an empty fridge, complaints from my father of ‘your mother cooked baked potato with tuna TWICE IN A ROW’ and ‘ but dinner in college is so easy, who needs to grocery shop?’ welcomed me. So I was forced to feel around in the fridge for something to cobble together for dinner. What I found was, new potatoes, some rather old preserved lemons, one last dollop of mayonnaise, butter, a few leftovers from the Neighbours dinner and some dodgy looking green beans. The green beans were quickly discarded as they smelt like wet fish. So instead I turned to the freezer and found mackerel fillets, a good start, and some frozen beans. I used the lemons as my sole inspiration for a Moroccan pan-fried mackerel with rose infused crushed potatoes.
            Firstly I boiled the potatoes with salt, pepper, a bay leaf, garlic, parsley and the mint. Meanwhile I toasted some blanched almonds, added the chopped lemons a good 150g or so of butter, salt, pepper, ras al hanout, parsley and a little vanilla extract and cooked till golden. When the potatoes were boiled I simply crushed them with mayonnaise and a dash of rose extract. Finally I dusted the mackerel fillets with flour, pan fried them (1 min on top 4min skin side down) and poured the sauce over, add some green beans and you have a dish.
            I even managed to provide dessert which was eagerly devoured by my father who had been surviving on the afore mentioned potatoes grudgingly. I simply used the salted caramel and caramel mousse left over from the Neighbour’s dinner, white chocolate I found in the cupboard, vanilla ice cream and cherries I had actually originally bought for my breakfast. Oh well needs….must.

Pea Pesto and Billionaire’s Shortbread

The main issue with starting to have a reputation among your friends as a chef is that they tend to expect a lot from you when you cook for them. Earlier this summer I was staying with friends while working at a catering and events company. There were often up to 10 of us staying in the house all out working during the day, so the obvious solution to getting everybody fed at the end of the day was a food rota. When it came to my turn I was faced with the task of cooking not only for 10 people, but also a vegetarian. While I was perfectly happy cooking chicken for the majority, cooking a vegetarian dish (especially one that excluded quite a lot of cheese that I found out is in fact not vegetarian) pushed me out of my comfort zone. At this point I came across a golden recipe that I have used many times now to a great reception. It’s good with pasta, on toast and even just on it’s own.
Pea Pesto
180g Peas, defrosted
35g Pine Nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful mint
handful parsley
80ml olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
pepper
1.     Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz till smooth
While working at my internship I relished in being incredibly busy all day, like my mother and sister I find it hard to stop once I’ve started moving around. So on my days off I usually had no idea what to do. Alone in someone else’s house is a bit disconcerting anyway but with the nearest town a train ride away I tended to get a little bored. So I decided to bake. However my baking was limited to the ingredients of the corner shop 20mins down the road. I decided in the end the best idea would be to combine some of my favourite flavours, shortbread, peanuts and chocolate and hope that it turned out alright. This time it worked and one of my hosts nicknamed it the Billionaire’s Shortbread.
Billionaires Shortbread
For the base
230g unsalted butter, softened
140g brown sugar
340g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
For the topping
115g unsalted butter
200g brown sugar
115g honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
140g salted roasted peanuts
60g unsalted cashews

100g milk chocolate chips

1.     Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
2.     Cream butter and sugar together till smooth. Add in flour and salt to make a crumbly dough.
3.     Press the dough into the tin, then prick the top with a fork.
4.     Bake for 20mins till golden brown
5.     Meanwhile combine the butter, sugar, honey and cream over a low heat and stir. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 1 minute.
6.     Take it off the heat and stir in the nuts.
7.     Remove the base from the oven and immediately pour the topping over.
8.     Return to the oven and bake for 20mins.
9.     As soon as you take it out of the oven sprinkle over the chocolate chips and leave to cool.
10.When cool chop into squares.