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.
180g Peas, defrosted
35g Pine Nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, crushed
80ml olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
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.
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
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.