So it finally happened. I finally have begun training to professionally trade as a chef! I can only describe it as a mix of Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen. Mornings we cook recipes and are critiqued, afternoons we watch demonstrations and take notes in lectures. There’s homework, a lunchroom, uniform, parents evening…. Who’d have thought school the second time round would be so much fun? You’ll be pleased to know that I indulged in a totally new set of stationary,labelled clearly and my locker is already as messy as it was in sixth form. Moren the experience later, because cookery school is exhausting (as is the 6am commute) so here is just a taster (gettit!!!!)
So preparation for Leiths has began and brought with it Bake Off style military precision sub divided into weeks. This week was egg week. My thoughts behind this dish was a way to try out poaching eggs without boring them having already experience fried eggs and omelettes that week. Something distinctly light (there had been a lot of carbohydrates in bread week the week before) but tasty and using up the random ingredients strewn in the fridge. I present to you bacon, lentil creamy, warm salad with poached eggs. You might understand why I gave it a shorter name, but trust me it is delicious.
1. Brown 6 rashers of bacon in 1tbsp oil until crispy. Mix in 4tbsp lentils and 2tbsp pearl barley. Add 1tsp each of rosemary, thyme and oregano. Mix in 1tbsp tomato puree, 1tbsp red wine vinegar and 300ml beef stock. Simmer for 10-12mins until reduced. Stir in 3tbsp cream and set aside.
Meanwhile bring a pan of water to the boil. Take 2 eggs out of the refridgerator and break into 2 bowls. Poach one at a time by creating a whirlpool in the simmering water and gently dropping the egg into it so the white binds to the centre of the egg. Cook for 2mins and remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels .
Check the lentils for seasoning and stir through a handul of watercress. Place in the centre of2 plates and top with 1 poached egg each. Serve.
On the day I came home from my first experience of a magazine food photoshoot, (amazing by the way) I can only apologize for the shocking presentation and photography of this dish. My only excuse is that after getting up at half five, I was simply trying to get dinner on the table. Having said that, the reason I included this dish on the blog is that you will inevitably crave this when the whether gets cold and it’s pretty damn tasty. I am always trying to encourage my family to eat leftovers but sometimes it helps if you literally hide it in a dish. So with the bacon and baked beans leftover from brunch, save of breakfast for dinner, I had to dig deep. The weather is getting colder, the leaves are turning brown and this blog post is dangerously close to sounding like a cheesy hymn primary children sing at their morning harvest assembly… Cheese now there’s an idea. How about a warming stew, lentils, bacon and beans with pumpkin wedges and spinach (well they were in the fridge) and to stop my father from complaining about all this beany crap, I hide it with a nice layer of cheese….
Smokey Bean stew (serves 2)
- Heat 1tbsp oil in saucepan and add 3 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped. Cook for 3-4mins. Add 1tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1tbsp red wine vinegar, 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tsp ginger.Add 5tbsp lentils and 1tbsp oil. Pour over 450ml stock, using 1/2 stock cube. Leave to simmer for 10mins, stirring occasionally.
Add 2tsp honey and 1tsp smoked chipotle tabasco. Pour in leftover baked beans. Cook for 2-3mins. Serve in bowls sprinkled with grated cheese with roasted pumpkin or sweet potato wedges and spinach.
I have, for a very long time, been intrigued by trying one of the new vegetables-replacing-carbs health fads going around at the moment. Given that courgette pasta would involve spending money on a spiraliser…I thought cauliflower rice would be a better starting point. Normally if I served my father any spicy food or indeed a carb-free, vegetable-rich meal I would get “oh what’s this” and a healthy pile of food left on the side after it had been pushed around the plate a bit; but this time it got the thumbs up. Whether this is just because slowly I’ve started to indoctrine my family in food that has flavour and is different or whether he actually liked it is for you to decide once you’ve tried the recipe. (See what I did there…)
- Pulse 350g Cauliflower florets in a food processor to fine pieces.
Meanwhile put 1tsp sesame oil, 1tbsp olive oil, 1 onion (chopped) 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1tbsp curry powder, 1tsp coriander paste, 1tsp mild chilli powder, 1tsp ginger and 2tsp sea salt in a saucepan. Sweat the onions over a medium heat for 5mins. Add 2 chopped chicken breasts and cook for 3-4mins. Add 1 small can coconut cream, fill the can twice with water and add to the pan. Add 1tsp lemon and black pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 5-10mins.
Meanwhile add 200ml water to a pan with the chopped cauliflower and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and cook for 4-5mins. Drain well.
Add a handful of chopped green beans to the curry and cook for 2-3mins. Serve the curry served over the rice and sprinkled with flaked almonds.
Just a link to my new column in ‘The Cambridge Student’. Food orientated but not recipes.
I’m sure it appears that my house is an endless stream of dinner parties at the moment. This is mostly because my parents have been storing up invitations to dinner until I came home, giving me an opportunity to practise my cooking before next year. This time it was the turn of some very good family friends of ours who I credit for helping further my career with advice and investment. They were the first people to listen to the ideas of a precocious 17 year old and trust me with catering 21st birthdays, engagement parties and even help me out with my brief hamper business. So no pressure with actually delivering something which lives up to their high opinion of me then… I was tasked with creating something not too heavy and of course given the dreariness of the British weather, something enticingly summery to counteract the rain. But then who in England isn’t extremely used to drinking Pimms outside whilst a faint mist of drizzle falls around them?
Lemon and Garlic Cod, truffled Red Pepper puree, pearly barley risotto and crispy pine nuts (serves 4)
4 skinless, boneless cod fillets, 4 garlic cloves, 1 sliced lemon, fresh coriander, black pepper, groundnut oil
3 red peppers, drizzle truffle oil, 1tsp dried oregano, 1tsp dried basil, 1tsp chilli powder, 1tsp paprika, 1tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp white wine vinegar, 2tsp sea salt
Pearl Barley Risotto
2 onions, 4 garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, 3tbsp sherry, 2tsp each dried rosemary, parsley, thyme, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp chilli powder, Fresh Coriander, 280g pearl barley, 1 stock cube
75g pine nuts
- For the cod, place fillets on a piece of foil. Scatter with chopped garlic, slices of lemon coriander and black pepper (nb NO SALT) and drizzle with groundnut oil. Fold up into a parcel and crimp the top like a cornish pasty.
Roast the Peppers whole in the oven on the highest setting for 20mins, turning halfway, or until skin is blackened slightly and blistered. Leave to cool.
For the risotto, chop the onion and garlic and sauté in oil and a sprinkle of salt until translucent. Add the sherry and some lemon juice followed by the spices. Add pearl barley and cook for 2-3mins. Add 600ml water and stock cube. Leave to simmer stirring occasionally until water has mostly gone and barley is cooked. Add more water if needed. Stir through herbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This can be heated up just before serving, if doing this, leave a little undercooked and add more water before heating.
To finish the puree, remove the skin and seeds of the peppers. Using a blender liquidise all the ingredients, adjusting seasoning to taste.
Bake the fish at 180 o C for 7-10mins. Meanwhile toast pine nuts on a medium heat in a frying pan for 3-5mins, then crush in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. To serve, spoon puree onto plates, top with risotto, then fish and finally crushed pine nuts.
Pimms jelly, Avocado Cream, Vanilla and Raspberry macaroon
125g sugar, 100ml water, 4 sheets gelatine, 125ml pimms, 100ml lemonade, selection of berries to serve, mint leaves
1 avocado, 2tbsp greek yoghurt, pinch salt, 2tbsp icing sugar, 1tbsp lime juice
Vanilla and Raspberry Macaroons
2 egg whites, 2tbsp caster sugar, 110g icing sugar, 175g ground almonds, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 75g frozen raspberries, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 2tbsp caster sugar
For the Jelly, Bring the sugar and water to the boil and boil for 2-3mins. Meanwhile soak gelatine leaves in cold water. Remove syrup from the heat and add gelatine leaves, squeezed out. Add pimms and lemonade and stir. Pour into 4 teacups. Leave to set at room temperature for 1 hour. Add fruit, leave to set in fridge for 2 or more hours.
For the macaroons. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Add caster sugar to form a meringue. Fold in icing sugar, almonds and vanilla bean paste. Scoop mix into a piping bag and pipe into circles on greaseproof paper. You may find it easier to draw templates on the paper first. Preheat oven to 210 o C. Drop trays onto a flat surface from a low heat to remove any air bubbles and peaks. Leave macaroons for 20mins to set the tops. Put in the oven for 5mins or until the macaroons start to brown. Immediately turn the oven off and leave for 30mins.
For the filling, Heat raspberries, caster sugar and vanilla paste over a medium flame. Stir and mash the raspberries together as they defrost. Leave to simmer till dark and jammy Remove from the heat. When room temperature, sandwich to macaroons with the jam.
For the Avocado cream, blend all ingredients together and adjust to taste.
To serve, pipe cream onto the jellies, top with a mint leaf and serve macaroon on the saucer.
It has taken a good 7 years of gentle coaxing but we have finally got to the point in the Gullifer household where my father drops hints that he wants to be served a dish as exotic as Mole. I can see the appeal to Gullifer senior. Any dish that combines chocolate and meat cannot be faulted, especially when served with creamy guacamole and crunchy flaked almonds. So upon the highly anticipated arrival in Oxford of the German gal and the slightly spontaneous invite of the man who lives upstairs to dinner, I decided to give in to my father’s subtle demands. At least this way I could at least indulge in the sauce and guacamole alongside my soup on my liquid-only-aching jaw induced diet, even if I missed out on the flaking chicken thighs and buttery rice served alongside….. The day cannot come soon enough until I can eat anything with more texture than jelly, or at least dull the pain for a while with painkillers while I indulge. The dessert of Dime Bar Crunch ice cream with pecans was especially cruel to watch, at least liquid diet includes wine.
4tbsp sesame oil
4 chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves
2tsp chilli powder
2 stock cubes
50g dark chocolate
- Brown the chicken thighs in 2tbsp sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Remove from the pan. Add the onions and garlic and another pinch of salt and black pepper and sauté till clear. Add the spices, cook for 2 mins. Add the tequila. Add the chocolate, stir until melted. Add the browned chicken, remaining sesame oil, stock cubes and 1l water. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 20 mins. Scatter with fresh coriander and serve with buttered rice (see below).
Place 150g long grain rice in a pan with 600ml water, 1 stock cubes and 1tbsp butter. Cook for 15mins or until water is absorbed.
Toasted flaked almonds (scattered over at end), raisins (added 5mins before end of cooking), flatbreads (200g wholemeal bread flour, 1tsp salt, 100ml warm water: kneaded for 5mins, rolled into thin flat circles and fried for 3-4mins on either side in 1tsp sesame oil), guacamole.
I’ve been busy, as you might have guessed due to the lack of blog posts. Having returned from my travels as far afield as New Orleans, Sardinia and Kent (blog post to follow) I have made the move all the way back to the family home. Since officially returning to the nest I have spent many hours sorting out all the crap that builds up over 22 years. You know you’re a nineties baby when you find such treasures as the high tech palm pilot, a walkman boasting anti-bumping mechanism (so you can listen to CDs in the car without them skipping) and a Furbie which finally died from neglect. It was while sorting out another area of my life, which I had neglected almost as long as the Furbie, that I was given devastating news. After a trip to the Dentist I managed to dislocate my Jaw in a minor fashion, meaning I am currently on a liquid diet for the foreseeable future. You never know how much you take the ability to chew for granted, and how depressing it is only being able to drink your meals until you have no choice. Thoroughly annoyed at my situation, I have decided to live vicariously through my Parents at meal times. Tonight as I sat down to a large portion of Sweet Potato and Cumin soup, they dug into Pesto Salmon, Roasted Tomato and Watercress Salad, with a Yoghurt Basil Dressing and Giant Garlic Croutons.
5 cherry tomatoes
2bsp Greek Yoghurt
2tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves
knob of butter
2 slices brown bread
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Spread a tbsp of Pesto on each Salmon fillet and place in the oven with a drizzle of oil for 15mins.
Meanwhile halve the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and basil, place in the oven.
For the croutons, chop the garlic finely. Heat the butter with 1tbsp oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2mins. Quarter the bread slices and fry in the pan for 2-3mins on each side. Scatter with parsley if you wish.
To plate up, boil the green beans for 2-3mins then drain. Meanwhile mix the yoghurt, lemon juice and dried basil and season to taste. Dress the watercress and place in the middle of the plate. Top with green beans, then cherry tomatoes and drizzle over excess oil. Finally top with Salmon fillet and place croutons on the side.