Filthy, healthy living

lemond

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch”

-Orson Welles

Beloved ample darlings! It has been far too long an absence since I last shared my culinary ramblings with you all and for this, I sincerely apologise. If only I could excuse my lack of foodie chatter by means of an exotic voyage or a whirlwind romance (I have that already!) and yet, it is sheer, menial work that has kept me from you all this time! That, and a broken aga, no internet connection and a touch of laziness all mixed in together. The good news is however, that my Cordon Bleu teachings are just around the corner meaning, that this blog is going to be “crème pâtissière packed” with recipes all year round. Truly, this blog is going to be bursting at the sponge seams with fabulous techniques, teachings and ideas from an internationally recognised culinary hub! I can’t promise to share the exact recipes (I’m sure that’s quite naughty!) but I will point you in the right direction without a doubt. Right, let’s get on with this week’s edition already!

Video Kitchen Aid

 I had to let you down straight off didn’t I! Or perhaps not…this week my internet it down and I don’t think it appropriate to film a kitchen aid sequence in pret! I’m going to let the great Gordon Ramsey teach you how to do a perfect steak. Lads and ladies, get excited! This is a brilliant video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmC9SmCBUj4

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit & Vegetables;

  • Damsons
  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Berries (end of season)
  • Cabbage
  • Pumpkin
  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Chicory
  • Courgette
  • Fennel
  • French Beans
  • Globe Artichoke
  • Leeks

Fish & Meat;

  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Haddock
  • Mackerel
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Duck*
  • Goose*
  • Venison*

[*coming into season]

Culinary Query

 Felix, Putney

This sounds stupid, but how do I cook dried pasta properly?

Funnily enough, you’re not the first person to ask me this. When cooking dried pasta, your water must be boiling hot! The quickest way to do this is, to boil a full kettle and take out your largest pan. Once the kettle has boiled, pour the water into the pot and add a teaspoon of salt. Turn the hob on fairly high and pour in your desired amount of pasta. For one healthy sized portion, I would recommend between 75g-115g of dried pasta. Don’t put a lid on the pot as this will encourage the water to boil over. The pasta should take 8-10 minutes to cook but keep checking and don’t forget to stir occasionally in order to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pan! Once cooked to your preference, drain and serve on a hot plate.

This Weeks’ Recipes

Super Healthy Salmon Fish cakes

fishcakes

An ideal dinner alternative to a salmon fillet with salad. These fishcakes use neither potatoes nor breadcrumbs and still taste fab! I served mine with some sweet chilli sauce and a soy & rice noodle stir fry with grilled broccoli. It was utterly delicious and was wonderfully quick and easy to put together.

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, about 550g/1lb 4oz in total, cut into chunks

2 tbsp Thai red curry paste

thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, grated

1 tsp soy sauce

1 bunch coriander, half chopped, half leaves picked

1 tsp vegetable oil

lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

Tip the salmon into a food processor with the paste, ginger, soy and chopped coriander. Pulse until roughly minced. Tip out the mix and shape into 4 patties. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, then fry the fishcakes for 4-5 mins on each side, turning until crisp and cooked through.

Bean and Chorizo Broth

broth

I call this a broth because it’s a halfway house between a stew and a soup. When I am trying to eat well but not compromise on flavour, I tend to make a pot of something so when it’s feeding time at the zoo (any meal time for me!) I can heat it up and eat straight away. This one pot is great on its own but equally, words well served with chicken or fish. Also, kale works as a rice substitute for all you health buffs out there and tastes pretty darn good.

Ingredients:

1 white onion

5” of chorizo, sliced

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

400g of ready to eat haricot beans

250ml beef stock

A glug of red wine

A few heads of parsley

Salt and pepper, oil for frying

Method:

Finely chop your white onion and fry in a big dish on a medium heat with a little oil, till translucent and soft. Add the chorizo next and watch the beautiful orange oil run all over the onions. Let the chorizo cook a little on both sides then add the tomatoes. Stir the ingredients together, adding the stock and red wine at the same time. Finally, throw in the beans, parsley and season to your liking. Leave it to reduce with the lid on for a further 25-30mins on a low heat.

Cauliflower based pizza

cauliflower pizza

Peeked your interest?! I know this sounds a little bizarre but honestly, it’s quite pleasant. Introduced to the concept by a good (gluten intolerant) friend of mine, Francesca Miller, using ground-up cauliflower florets, almonds and 2 eggs makes a healthy alternative to your usual flower-based pizza. It went down a storm with my friends and I would make it again without hesitation. And yet, I feel like I should admit that although the cauliflower has a good texture etc….I’d still choose a gorgeous and floury, thin Italian pizza base any day!

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower

4 tbsp ground almonds

2 eggs

Method:

Take off all the leaves and greenery around your cauliflower and remove the bitter root at the base. Using a sharp knife, cut off the florets (the flowery bits and their stalks), place in a blender and blend till they resemble small breadcrumbs. Next, steam the blended cauliflower for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat. I made my ‘steamer’ with a sieve resting on top of a big silver saucepan. Make sure the water does NOT TOUCH the cauliflower.

Once the cauliflower is nicely steamed, place the crumbs into the centre of a clean tea towel and pull up the edges so it makes a tight little bundle. Squeeze the cauliflower bundle gently and watch as a huge amount of water will be forced out! Once you think you have removed all the water, place the cauliflower crumbs into a bowl and add the eggs and ground almonds. Mix together until nicely combined. Finally pour onto a greaseproofed baking tray and using your hands, shape the mixture into your desire shape. Don’t spread your ‘dough’ too thinly as it won’t rise when in the oven. Try and keep it around half an inch thick minimum. Place the finished and shaped dough into a preheated oven of 200°C for 15-20 mins. It should be slightly golden brown when you take it out. The last thing you do is add your passata, mozzarella and toppings and cook for a further 10 mins until your pizza is ready!

Note: If you want to use aubergines on your pizza, I recommend that you grill them first, likewise with courgettes as they can be a little tough.

Before I go, I would like to thoroughly recommend a newly set-up bakery in Putney. It is an ethical bakery named Lazaro which specializes in soda bread. Ruben, a Venezuelan baker and co-founder of Lazaro is wonderfully charming and a skilful bread maker! Not only is the soda bread gorgeous (they do a chorizo & green olive as well as their signature potato variety!) but they offer brioche, classic baguettes, homemade pastries and the most wonderful sweet loaves such as butternut squash tea cake. If you find yourself in the Putney area, please do check this place out as it is artisan baking at its best!

bread

https://www.facebook.com/lazaroartisanbakery

Lastly, here is a picture of my father’s proud pooch who won second prize as most handsome dog in Peckham Rye’s annual dog show. Who doesn’t love a sausage dog?!

merli

Until next week little chickens!

Love,

E. Wells xX

Spinning Saucepans on Sticks

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‘Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.’

-William Shakespeare

Dearest ample friends! What a pleasure it is to finally, be sitting down and detailing my culinary adventures to you wonderful people once again. These past two weeks have been mightily busy, as I have had an awful lot of kitchen work on all over London. Don’t get me wrong, it was utterly brilliant but quite exhausting! Thankfully, this week is a little quieter so I can write all my experiences down for you to peruse! This week’s blog has an array of foodie tips, professional advice not to mention recipes and oodles of culinary lovin’.

Video Kitchen Aid

Learn all about the importance of mise en place in a professional kitchen. Knife handling tips, chopping and keeping your work top clear are a must!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxCx2FcCKZ0&feature=youtu.be

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit and Vegetables;

  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • Globe Artichokes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Broad Beans
  • Chicory
  • Mangetout
  • Peas
  • Nectarines
  • Redcurrants
  • Raspberries
  • Apricots
  • Blackcurrants
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Greengages

Meat and Fish;

  • Lamb
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Crab

Culinary Query

Alex, Herne Hill

When I crack my eggs, a little bit of shell always falls into the mixing bowl. Do you have a way to stop this from happening?

A little bit of egg shell in your batter is never going to ruin a meal but I understand it is a real nuisance. I find that with one confident crack of an egg against a strong bowl should produce no fallen shell. However, if it does I like to use one of the halves to scoop the shell out. The more you tap an egg, the more likely bits of shell will crack off into the bowl. Happy baking!

 First on this week’s agenda is to get to grips with some good quality meat. As I’ve previously mentioned, the delightful Brian Randall from Randall’s butchers in Fulham has allowed me to spend some time at his shop in order to develop my knowledge of meat and improve my knife skills. On my third trip two weeks ago, I was shown how to make an array of sausages and oh my, was it fun! A colleague of Brian, Roberto from Turin, Italy walked me through the best way to make a sausage filling, how to use the machine and finally, how to tie the sausages ready to sell in the shop. Here are a few suggestions of fillings if you wish to make your own sausages; Pork & Apricot, Lamb & Thyme and Beef & Caramalised onion. You can buy already minced meat from a supermarket and the intestine skins from a butcher! Have a go at making your own at home using your hands. As Chef Margaret says, ‘they’re your best wooden spoons’.

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Fillet Steak

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Mincing organic beef. Look at that fantastic colour!

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Lamb bottoms….aka the rump!

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Roberto making chipolatas!

According to Roberto, the best ratio for sausage filling is 80% meat to 20% fat. All the meat in a sausage is from different parts of the animal (rump, chop, chuck etc) in question. Interestingly, a bit of beef is added to lamb sausages to give it a better colour. This is because lamb mince when combined with breadcrumbs and herbs can look a little grey and unattractive so, a little beef makes it look and taste much better. Together, Roberto and I made lots of plain pork sausages using very few extra ingredients (a few herbs and seasoned with salt and pepper) as they are the most popular in the shop. The process is as follows; first the pork meat and fat is minced together in a frightening machine and placed into a large bowl with all the seasoning and herbs then, using your bare hands you mix it all together pushing the mince away from you twice, then towards yourself once. The mixture is then placed in another machine which sucks the mince through a long tube, where it is forced into an intestine skin! Unsurprisingly it looks a bit rude but obviously tastes delicious. Once the skin is filled with the minced meat filling, it is twisted and hung up in the shop to buy! My pork sausages where sold in the shop that very day, along with a variety of other flavours and sizes such as merguez chipolatas and lamb cocktail sausages.

 

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Intestines and sausage meat. It’s hard not to grimace but it’s how they’re made!

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My pork sausages ready to sell in the shop! Brian let me take a dozen home too. Such a lovely man!

This Weeks’ Recipes

The second food related job that I’ve been doing recently is helping a wonderfully talented South African chef named Angie, to prepare her delicious  seasonal lunch platters to the South West London masses! Cordon Bleu trained, Chef Angie has worked in some of the toughest London kitchens around, working primarily under Gordon Ramsay but now, she owns her own business, ‘Angie’s Little Food Shop’ offering wholesome, healthy and frightfully tasty lunch platters delivered  all over town. Her clients range from high fashion houses, to A-list celebrities and beyond and she was kind enough to let me do a few days’ work alongside her! Initially I practiced my knife skills and learnt the value of mise en place (putting things into place), which was incredibly helpful. Angie taught me how to work quickly and efficiently in the kitchen without causing myself any harm, which I teach you in my kitchen aid video this week! After two days fruit and vegetable prepping, Angie let me in her kitchen where I was showed the art of sealing meat, food combinations and how to put together her scrumptious platters. I learnt an awful lot in just three days, not only in actions but also in theory. I would recommend anyone and everyone to order a food platter from this talented chef and even more so, to attend a cooking lesson. She is passionate about what she does, incredibly talented and a real laugh. She didn’t shout at me at all, promise! Check out her website for more details here: http://www.angieslittlefoodshop.com/

 

angie

Chef Angie.

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 Asian inspired salad with a sesame dressing. I tried it and it was heavenly!

 

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Wild rice and celery lunch platter!

Roasted Cauliflower Salad inspired by Angie Steele and BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower, broken into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp raisins

small bunch dill, snipped

3 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds

50g baby spinach

Salt and pepper

Dressing:

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

1½ tbsp honey

Method:

Roast the cauliflower for 20-25 minutes at around 180ºC in the oven with the oil and plenty of salt and pepper. You want the edges of the cauliflower to catch but not burn. Once the cauliflower is out the oven, toast the almond flakes in a dry pan. Place the spinach into a big salad bowl, thrown in the raisins, cauliflower, almonds, dill. Combine the sherry vinegar and honey in a cup and pour over the salad. Eat immediately. A simple balsamic dressing works well here too.

As well as Angie’s savoury platters, she also makes a few sweet dishes for her lunchtime clients. A popular order is the classic rocky road and this week I decided to make a batch of my own for a troupe of talented actors touring the UK and beyond on their bicycles performing Shakespeare! If you fancy looking them up, they are called the HandleBards. Needless to say, the rocky road went down a treat so much so that I wasn’t quick enough to grab a photo opportunity! A sign of a good recipe.

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 The HandleBards’ Rocky Road inspired by Angie Steele & Nigella Lawson

Ingredients:

125 grams soft butter

300 grams best-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) broken into pieces

3 tablespoons golden syrup

200 grams rich tea biscuits

100 grams mini marshmallows

30g of dried cranberries

25g pistachios

2 teaspoons icing sugar (for dusting)

Method:

Melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan. Scoop out about 125ml / ½ cup of this melted mixture and put to one side. Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and then bash them with a rolling pin. You are aiming for both crumbs and pieces of biscuits. Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, and then add the marshmallows, nuts and cranberries. Tip into a foil tray (24cm / 9 inch square); flatten as best you can with a spatula. Pour the reserved 125ml / ½ cup of melted chocolate mixture over the marshmallow mixture and smooth the top. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight. Cut into 24 fingers and dust with icing sugar by pushing it gently through a tea strainer or small sieve.

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 The HandleBards peforming at Hoghton Tower having gorged on rocky road!

Check out their website to see where they are going next: http://www.peculius.com/handlebards.html

 

Lastly, the other kitchen experience I have had this week is with our beloved Chef Margaret! I was permitted to act as her assistant while she taught a group of youngsters how to cook an array of dishes. Margaret was on fine form as usual and the star of the show. One particular recipe stood out to me on this occasion and that is the Moroccan Chicken Skewers! Delish for both adults and children. They can be thrown on the BBQ or turn out just as well in the oven or grilled. Look at Margaret website here: http://mashedandsmashed.com/

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Moroccan Kebabs

Ingredients:

5 chicken fillets (1 per person)

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp light olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ tsp each of ground cinnamon, coriander and cumin

Juice of one lemon

½ tsp of harissa

Method:

Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in a sizable bowl. Mix all the other ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Leave the chicken covered in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, overnight is even better! Soak the kebab sticks in water for 20 minutes before you need to thread the chicken on them. The water will stop the sticks from burning on the BBQ or in the oven. Thread the chicken on the sticks, slightly spaced out to quicken cooking time and cook through. Meanwhile if you want to re-use the marinade left over in the bowl, heat it up in a saucepan and add a little more olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar and a gloop of pomergranite molasses. Stir the marinade till thick and bubbling hard. Pour into a small bowl or directly over the kebabs.

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Primary School Tiffin

Another cheeky traybake  that I learnt at Primary school that still sends tongue wagging! I made this on a BBQ because my stove broke….dedication!

Ingredients:

8oz digestive biscuits

4oz margarine

2oz caster sugar

2tbsp drinking chocolate

1 egg

8oz plain chocolate

Method:

Lightly grease a swiss roll tin. Put crushed biscuits into a bowl and place sugar, margarine and coca into a saucepan and melt gently. Add the beaten egg and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat, combine with the crushed  biscuits and press into the tin. Melt the chocolate and pour over the top of the biscuits. Smooth it down and leave to set in the fridge. When cold, cut into little squares.

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That is all for this weeks ample folks! See you next week for more recipes, food styling and seasonal tips. I leave you with this picture of my father’s dog, Merlin the dachshund who won 1st prize in the local fair as the dog the judges most wanted to take home. Isn’t he adorable?

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Love E. Wells Xx

That Summer Eatin’

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‘To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.’

-Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Hello ample darlings and welcome to another instalment from the ample servings’ kitchen! One cannot deny that June has brought a vast array of weathers to our British shores which to a chef in training, can only mean one thing, an opportunity to be a little experimental in the kitchen! This week I have a brilliant Thai coconut soup to share with you, not to mention a little chilli cucumber side salad to keep you cool and calm during these humid nights, and a number of Ottolenghi summer salads to tantalise your taste buds and bring a little colour to your dinner tables this month. For all you meat lovers out there, I also have the most delicious recipe for Chinese ribs from Miss Lawson. Prepare yourselves for a culinary fiesta of fresh ingredients, exotic flavours and a whole lot of healthy living!

Technique of the Week

To my horror, the aga has been switched off this week and I am without a stove. Learn how to scramble eggs to perfection with Mr Oliver

 

Seemingly seasonal:

Fruit and Vegetables:

  • Broad beans
  • French green beans
  • Mangetout
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Chicory
  • Avocado
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Figs
  • Cherries

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Sardines
  • Crab
  • Lamb

 

Culinary query:

Rebecca Gordon, Esher

How do I make a really good curry?

For me, the real secret to making a top notch tasting curry is by making  your very own curry paste. Whether you’re cooking Indian, Thai, Malaysian (the list is endless!)  the paste is your secret weapon to dazzle your guests. Not only does a homemade paste taste so much better than pre-made pataks or waitrose own, you can cater to your own tastes! If you like a little more heat, add more chilies and if you don’t, don’t! Making your own paste sounds awesome to others and yet, in a little blender, it takes seconds to make. For Indian cuisine of which I know you’re a fan of, I recommend getting your hands on Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Easy’  and trying the lamb korma in an almond-saffron sauce. All of Madhur’s recipes have the paste built into the ingredients list and her curries are out of this world! For more of a Thai, Korean feel try Bill Granger cookbooks. They are very simple yet deliver on taste beyond reason.

 

This Weeks’ Recipes

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 Chicken, Mushroom and Coconut Soup

Let us begin with our Thai soup, which can only be described as a heart-warming, fragrant broth from the slightly lesser known Australian chef, Bill Granger and his ‘Everyday Asian’ cookbook. This book is absolutely beautiful and acts as a perfect gift to any Asian food fan. The recipes are simple yet divine and would win you the ‘come dine with me’ crown over and over again! The photos are so glorious it makes you want to cook absolutely everything however, for some reason my eyes fell upon the less colourful (white in fact!) coconut, chicken and mushroom soup. To me it looked soothing, ideal after a busy day and I’m a sucker for anything with coconut in it! In my version, I used normal chestnut mushrooms as opposed to the Asian kind and also added a few tinned bamboo shoots and bok choy. Equally, water chestnuts would work just as well as another vegetable option! Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

200ml coconut milk

500ml chicken stock

3cm ginger, peeled and sliced

2 lemon grass stalks, cut into 5cm pieces and flattened with a knife

5 kaffir lime leaves

400g skinless chicken breasts

200g mixed Asian mushrooms

2 tbsp of lime juice

2 tbsp of fish sauce

1 tbsp caster sugar

Handful of baby spinach leaves, finely sliced

 Method:

Put the coconut milk, chicken stock, 500ml of water, ginger, lemon greass and limes leaves in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and remove from the heat.

Lift the chicken from the soup and cut into chunks. Place in each serving bowl, top with the spinach leaves and mushrooms from the pan, then ladle the soup over the top. Serves 4.

 

 

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Pickled Cucumber Salad

An ideal little side salad with a bit of a kick! This is delightful and looks wonderfully elegant.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

Half of a cucumber, peeled

Method:

Combine the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli flakes in a large bowl. Add the cucumber slices, cover and leave in the fridge to marinade for an hour, stirring occasionally.

 

 

 

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Sticky Chinese Ribs

These ribs are simply to die for! My mum made these from a Nigella Lawson book and they went down an absolute storm. A must for all meat lovers! Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

 4 tbsp vinegar

3 tbsp soy

dash of sesame oil

2 tbsp honey

cinnamon stick, crumbled

a few star anise

6cm of ginger, cut into sticks

4 shallots, chopped into finger-length lengths

2 long fat chillies

One box of pork ribs

Method:

Place all the ingredients into a plastic sandwich bag or a big baking tray and cover the ribs with the marinade thoroughly. If you have the time to leave the ribs to marinade (1hr+), let them sit in the fridge covered with foil. When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 200ºC. Place the ribs on a tray, cover with foil and bake in the oven for an hour. Then, uncover the ribs and add a dash of honey and 2 tsp Chinese five spice. Raise the heat to 230ºC and cook the ribs for a further 30 minutes. You can add a little hot water is the ribs start to burn.

 

 

 

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 Beetroot, Orange and Black Olive Salad

Fresh, beautiful and terrifically tasty! Senor Eight-Legs (Ottolenghi) strikes again in Plenty with a super salad that will wow dinner party guests with its elegance. Serves 2.

 

Ingredients:

 400g beetroots

2 sweet oranges

1 red endive (red chicory)

½ red onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp chopped parsley

40g wrinkled black olives, pitted and halved

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp orange blossom water

1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Method:

Cover the beetroot with cold water in a pot, bring to boil, cook 1 to 2 hours, depending upon size, until they are easily pierced by a knife or metal skewer. Let  the beetroots cool in the water, then drain and peel them. Cut each bulb into wedges about 1 inch wide and place them in a mixing bowl.

Cut the oranges into supremes by cutting off the tops and bases, then cutting down the sides, following the natural curve, to remove the peel and pith. Over a small bowl, remove the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments and any captured juice to the bowl of beetroot wedges.

Coarsely chop the radicchio into one-inch pieces and add to the bowl of beets. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

 

 

 

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Burnt Aubergine with Tahini Dip

A real treat for those in want of a dip that is a little more special than a bog standard houmous. It both looks and tastes delicious. You can dip in pitta bread or any kind of raw vegetable that you fancy. It works well on the side of the beetroot salad….Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine

70 tahini paste

60ml water

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsp chopped parsley

180g of cumcumber

90g cherry tomatoes

90g of pomegranate seeds

A little olive oil to finish

Salt and pepper

Method:

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Until next week ample followers! Enjoy the sunshine…

E. Wells Xx

Two Cooks Make An Excellent Broth

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“They keep saying that sea levels are rising an’ all this. It’s nowt to do with the icebergs melting, it’s because there’s too many fish in it. Get rid of some of the fish and the water will drop. Simple. Basic science.” 

-Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad

 Dearest ample darlings! What a pleasure it is to be back with a rip roaring foodie blog on time and filled to the brim with the best knowledge and tastiest grub, straight from the busy kitchen of professional chef, Margaret Bemand! Last week, I was most fortunate to be asked back to her humble home to assist her in a cooking class for a group of St Pauls scholars. Some of you might remember that I spent a morning with her a few months back and we cooked an abundance of Asian cuisine, the chicken satay was most notable I must say! However, this week the menu was a little more European. Prepare yourselves for a fishy fiesta and sugary celebration all in one fantastic post.

Technique of the Week

Peel and core an apple in under 2 minutes! Your ample servings’ kitchen aid is here to save the day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW–uErtVnw&feature=youtu.be

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit and Vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • New potatoes
  • Morel
  • Spring onions
  • Samphire
  • Radishes
  • Rocket
  • Watercress
  • Chicory
  • Gooseberries

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Sardines
  • Lamb
  • Crab

Culinary Query

Ness, Borough

‘Can I make homemade bread without a bread tin?’

Yes, of course you can! If you have a look at my last blog there is no need to have a bread tin for focaccia or even a fruit wreath. Equally, if you have a spare flower pot hanging around, that will work just as well as any old tin.  It has to be clay and you best give it a good wash, but it will do nicely! Have a look at this link for an example:  http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2366635/flowerpot-bread.  Happy bread making!

This Week’s Recipes:

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Moules Marinieres

Anytime I find myself by the sea, be it abroad or on home shore I like to indulge myself in a little seafood. One of my favourite dishes is the French classic, ‘Moules Marinieres’ and lucky for me, this was the first recipe on the list last Thursday morning! Despite many years of sampling all types of fish, I actually have very little experience cooking our scaling finned friends! Chef Margaret was the ideal candidate to give me and now you, a how to on cooking mussels.

(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

1 chopped shallot

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

50g unsalted butter (because you never know how naturally salty your fish might be!)

1 kg mussels

1 carrot cut into juliennes

1 leek cut into juliennes

100ml white wine or cider

100ml double cream

Tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

Melt the butter in a big, heavy bottomed pan with a lid and add the shallot and garlic. Turn down the heat and allow to cook slowly. Now, to your mussels! Before you cook a mussel, they should be closed and then only open when cooked. When you buy your mussels always opt for the farmed variety. Farmed mussels are kept in clean water and undergo regular health checks throughout their growth whereas wild mussels can easily be contaminated. In a bag of mussels it will sometimes be the case that some of them will be open, BUT they can still be alive, meaning good to eat. Margaret suggested that you drop the open mussels from a little height onto the kitchen counter. If the mussel slowly closes (the noise frightens it), you can cook it but if it stays open, it is already dead and should be discarded. Next, clean the mussels. Using a small yet sharp knife, trim off the mussels’ beards (hilarious I know!) and barnacles.

When the shallot and garlic are aromatic and translucent then add the wine, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Add the mussels and put the lid on the pan. After three or four minutes, the mussels will be open. Give them a minute or two more to be cooked. Scoop the mussels back into the bowl and sieve the liquor on top of them. Throw away the grit in the pan and pour the liquor (through the sieve again) back in the pan. Add the carrots and leeks and boil like crazy for four minutes. Add the cream, stir through and taste-it will need pepper and possibly salt. Put the mussels back in to the pan and add the parsley. Lid on, give it a good shake and serve. I find that the shell of one mussel acts as a pincer to pull out the tasty centre!

Phew! That’s a lot of knowledge for one dish. Right, moving on to something with scales! This recipe is a homemade pesto crust cooked on a flat white fish. In the cooking lesson we used halibut which was incredibly meaty and delicious however, halibut is not a sustainable fish so I’m not going to recommend that you use it yourself. A fillet of salmon or sustainable cod works well as a supplement. Here is a link to check what fish is sustainable right now: http://www.fishonline.org/

 

IMG_4361

Halibut with a Pesto Crust

1 fish steak per person

 

Pesto:

Small clove garlic

One bunch of basil, leaves only

40-50g parmesan freshly grated or chopped

Good glug of olive oil

Pepper

50g pinenuts

A little green chili (optional)

 Traditionally made in a pestle and mortar, I find putting all the pesto ingredients into a small blender with enough olive oil makes an excellent consistency and is much less hassle. Whizz all the ingredients into a paste and if you can, leave it for a little while to allow the flavours to develop.

 Heat an oven 200ºC. Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper or a silicon sheet and place the fish on the sheet. Smother with the pesto and place in the oven. When the pesto begins to colour, the fish should be ready. If the fish flakes, it is ready! Serve hot from the oven with some sautéed potatoes and roasted vegetables. It’s utterly delicious.

Now, let’s move onto something a little sweeter and what’s sweeter than vanilla fudge!? Margaret demonstrated a wonderful method on how to make old fashioned, crumbly fudge and this was a true delight.

 IMG_4370

Vanilla Fudge

 Ingredients:

500g Granulated Sugar

80g Butter

150ml Milk

25ml Cream

175ml Evaporated Milk

Vanilla Essence

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a very large and also very clean saucepan. It needs to have a heavy base so that the heat is spread around evenly and have very tall sides as the mixture will boil up very high! Heat the mixture gently until everything melts. Then, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Take care here as the mixture will boil up high and heat to 116ºC. This make some time as there is a lot of liquid to boil off. Once the heat is turned up, you must stir the mixture continuously to stop it sticking. In the meantime, prepare a tin with greaseproof paper.

When the fudge hits the temperature, take off the heat, add the vanilla and beat it with a wooden spoon. The moment it begins to thicken, pour into the tin. Let it cool a bit but before it hardens, cut the fudge into squares with a knife. Unlike commercial fudge, this will be crystalline and slightly crunchy rather than slightly slimy.

Traditionally, tarte tatin is made with puff pastry however, chef Margaret recommends using sweet pastry. Homemade sweet pastry is quick and easy to make plus, it adds another texture to the soft apples and sticky caramel.

 

 

 IMG_4350

Tarte Tatin with Sweet Pastry

 Sweet Pastry:

100g Cold butter, cut up into pieces

200g Flour

40g Sugar

1 Egg

Splash of milk

 Using your hands, work the butter into the flour until you have a texture of breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and then the egg. Work the mixture together with your hands until you can make a ball of dough. You may need to add a splash of milk to get the right consistency. Cover the dough with cling-film for 30 minutes and place in the fridge.

 

For Tarte Tatin

 8 Apples* (or as many as fit in your pan)

100g Butter

100g Sugar

1 Quantity of sweet pastry

 Layer the butter with the sugar on the bottom of a heavy based pan. Peel, core and halve the apples, and place, round side down, on top of the butter/sugar layer. Roll out the pastry, and place on top of the apples. It should cover generously and you should be apple to tuck the edges into the pan. Place on a medium heat. The pastry will begin to puff up as the steam builds up inside. Keep smelling the steam and giving the pan a little shake until the steam smells of caramel. When it smells properly of caramel, put it in the oven at 180ºC to finish cooking the pastry. To serve, very carefully flip the pan onto a dish big enough to hold everything, including the juice. Tarte tatin goes down an absolute treat with cream, custard or even vanilla ice cream. Note that the apples can be substituted for pears in this recipe too.

IMG_4383

[*use technique of the week in order to peel these apple at the speed of light]

Thank you for reading my blog this week! Prepare for a lot more recipes exiting recipes next month. Until then, happy cooking!

E. Wells Xx

The Darling Taste Buds in May

trifles

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered”.

-Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows

Good morrow ample darlings! It’s been a little over a week since my last post and for that I am terribly sorry. My main sources of technology have been absent and yet, my foodie riddled brain has been very much alive! Not only have I been working tirelessly on new techniques and recipes, but I have also spent some time working on a children’s baking book as an assistant to a professional food stylist and have secured my first paid catering job for a vintage hat making company called Betty Noire this summer. The hats in question are incredibly stylish and utterly bespoke, so do have a look at the website if you’re into that sort of thing! I do wonder what stylish little canapes I’ll end up making!? As  you can see, it’s all go in the ample kitchen this week so, prepare to get your taste buds in gear for many a delectable delight!

Technique of the Week

How to make perfect  rice in under 10 minutes. Apologies that it’s n0t my own video this week but the lack of a phone and a laptop has led me to seek a professional this time!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9h65E433M

Seemingly Seasonal

Vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Chicory
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Spring Onions
  • New Potatoes
  • Morel
  • Samphire
  • Watercress

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Crab
  • Sardines
  • Lamb

 

Fruit:

  • Elderflower
  • Goosebury
  • Nectarines

 

Culinary Query

Callum Brodie, Streatham

“What can I cook for myself that’s both healthy and quick during the week?”

In order to eat well and look after your body, it’s very important to get a balance of all the food groups. Always have a good supply of fruit and vegetables that you like to eat, readily available. Sainsburys do small mixed bags of veg now and if you’re worried about wastage, put them in the freezer for when you need them. Vegetables can fit into any meal such as curries, risotto, homemade pesto or even as a side dish.

Slow releasing carbohydrates such as brown pasta, rice, bulgar wheat, quinoa and coucous are excellent sources of energy and can be knocked up very easily. Keep a couple tins of coconut milk and tinned tomatoes on stand by for quick fix meals such as pasta sauces and stews. For snacking foods I suggest mixed nuts (unsalted), dried fruit and dark chocolate. All are delicious and good for your body in moderation.

Protein is vital for a healthy diet too. A bit of read meat is good for your iron levels once in a while or a piece of fish such as salmon fillet cooked with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper tastes great! I like to indulge in hot salads once in a while, pulses such as chickpeas and puy lentils are wonderful thrown in with some chicken and a tasty dressing. Eggs are briliant too, and I’ve never heard anyone turn down scrambled egg on seeded bread! If you fancy some naughty fat, a homemade cake or bread and butter pudding is the best way to go in my opinion!

This Weeks’ Recipes

Tomato and Red Onion Focaccia

focaccia

As I said previously, two weeks ago I spent a day helping the lovely chef Dagmar on a food shoot for a children’s baking book. Together, we made all sort of delicious sweet and savoury breads and at the end of the day, once all the photos were shot we were able to sample our creations! The most tasty of the lot was definitely the homemade focaccia. Dagmar used cherry tomatoes and placed thi slices of red onion onto the top of the bread and it tasted fantastic! I can’t pass on the actual recipe that was used that day until the book reaches print however, I have an excellent replacement that works just as well! I recommend eating the bread fresh out of the oven….

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/focaccia_08389

Here are a few pictures of some other things we made that day on set…

chocolate bread

Chocolate Bread

french wreith

A current wreath

cin bread

Cinnamon Loaf

 

Toad in the Hole

Sausages

Now, I will admit that this is one of the lesser attractive toad’s I have made in my life-time but I must insist you give it a whirl. Despite it’s slightly rude appearance, it tastes absolutely delightful. Mr Nigel Slater asks you to put a little mustard in the batter mix which gives it a little but more oompfh! I suggest you get your hands on some decent sausages, make sure the fat is sizzling in the tray before you pour in the batter and finally, serve with plenty of green beans, silky mash and a good dose of onion gravy!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/toadinthehole_83871

Spring Trifle

trifles again

I am of the opinion that nothing quite beats a homemade trifle in the springtime. From a layer of alcohol soaked sponge (traditionally sherry), to soft fruit and vanilla custard, the whole dessert is sublime! An English showstopper if I ever saw one that sees off a weekend lunch with family and friends. Ideal for advance making on the day as the bowl of layers will happily sit in your fridge for a fair few hours without hesitation. It is worth noting that there are many variations of a trifle today. For example, I haven’t used jelly in this recipe but of course, you can if you want to! Just remember that the jelly is always the bottom layer, confusingly the one you would make first. To do this, simply mix the jelly with hot water and pour over the fruit in your serving bowl. Place the now jellied fruit in the fridge to set. Next you would place the sponge, followed by custard and then finally, the cream! For a really funny 50s example of a trifle, I suggest you watch this youtube clip of Kim Woodburn on ‘Come dine with me’. She is simply hysterical- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PKISKcZkvo

Ingredients:

For the sponge

100g Caster sugar

100g Self-raising Flour

2 Eggs

100g Unsalted Butter

Tsp Vanilla Essence

Fruit layer

100g Raspberries

100g Sliced and hulled strawberries

50g Blueberries

Custard

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/realpropercustard_65614

Cream Layer

50ml Double Cream

50ml Mascapone

20g Flaked Almonds

Method:

First, you make the sponge by creaming the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, flour and vanilla with a wooden spoon and then place in a baking tin for 25 mins at 180C. Once cooked through, place the sponge on a cooling rack to avoid a soggy base. Next, break up the sponge into small pieces and place at the bottom of your trifle bowl. Drizzle over a little liquour, I quite like cointreau here and place the washed soft fruit on top. Then place the freshly made vanilla custard on top and finally, the whisked combination of the ‘cream layer’ and spread on top. Toast the almonds in a dry pan and throw on top of the cream for a pretty finish. Grated chocolate is quite nice too or even maraschino cherries!

Thank you all once again for taking time to read my blog! I hope you have learnt a little, enjoyed yourselves and are now gagging to cook something delicious this week. If you want to look at yet more food related images and updates feel free to add me on instagram @EKCWELLS or follow me on twitter @BlitheringTwit. Here is the link to Betty Noire hat boutique: http://bettynoire.co.uk/ and finally, thank you to Ness Lafoy for all her hard work on the bake and bike illustrations! You are wonderful! Oh, one more thing! If you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, I finally ate at that fantastic vodka bar near Waterloo, called Baltic. The food and service were wonderful. Check out my sour cherries, poached pear and venison main course below!

venison

Until next week! I should be back with videos a plenty and some new stories from the butchers and a children’s cooking class with ex-professional chef Margaret!!

E. Wells Xx

As Tasty as a Spring Lamb

eggs

 

‘Don’t touch my eggs or my chocolate’

-Anon

Greetings my beloved foodie fanatics! Ample servings is literally boiling over with excitement at the thought of all the wonderful recipes, techniques and food related facts it has in store for you today. This year, April has had few showers and an abundance of sunshine and culinary frivolity. Prepare yourselves for some truly divine dishes packed with spiced flavours, fresh ingredients and oodles of texture! This Easter weekend is going to be good!

Technique of the Week

How to cut an onion like a pro straight from the Ample Kitchen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp9YPMqTqGY&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

Seemingly Seasonal

Vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Samphire
  • Watercress
  • Jersey new potatoes
  • Purple sprouting broccoli

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Lamb
  • Wood pigeon
  • Langoustine
  • Cockles
  • Crab
  • Whitebait

Fruit:

  • Bananas
  • Rhubarb
  • Kiwi fruit

Culinary Query:

Frankie Miller, Leeds

I’ve tried in vain to make a decent tarte tatin and am still stumped. Any suggestions?

Personally, I believe the key to making your tarte tatin a roaring success is by do three things; getting the right consistency in your caramel, not overcrowding your pan with lots of pieces of apple so it cooks evenly and by choosing the right kind of pan aka non-stick with a metal handle. If the caramel is not sticky enough, it simply won’t work when you attempt to flip it over and then you have a disaster on your hands! The best recipe I have yet to come by is by Jamie Oliver and here is a video to see how it is made. Bonne chance!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veuXU0hiT_I&hd=1

This Weeks’ Recipes

The first tantalising dish of the day is a gorgeous Lebanese style lamb tart. I came across this recipe desperately searching for a mince dish that wasn’t a lasagne or a standard Thursday night moussaka and honestly, this is an absolute delight. This dish is incredibly simple and wonderfully tasty. Perfect for both dinner or lunch with a little green side salad with a crumbling of zingy feta cheese. I served my tart with a dollop of natural yoghurt on the side to cool down any particularly hot chillies in the mince.

Mince tart

Spiced Lamb Tart

Ingredients:

375g ready-rolled puff pastry

1 tbsp semolina or polenta

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

500g lean lamb mince

1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses (we like Al Rabih, from Sainsbury’s)

2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 chillies, 1 deseeded and finely chopped, 1 sliced

25g pine nuts, toasted

200ml chicken stock, hot

Bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped, plus extra to garnish

Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Handful of pomegranate seeds

 

Method:

http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/spicy-lebanese-lamb-tart

feta and spinach

Have you ever wanted to indulge in a basket of chips without the guilt of the calories? Well, Rachel Khoo may just have answer to all our problems. While perusing her first book ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ earlier this week, I came across her root vegetable chips marinated in ground almonds and sunflower oil which act as a perfect partner to a mighty steak. Unlike regular chips, these babies are roasted in the oven rather than drowned in hot oil but don’t lose any of that naughty chip-like flavour. I made my chips with sweet potato and courgettes batons and recommend that you make the courgette batons a little thicker as they contain a lot of water, and can be a little limp and soggy if cut thin.

steak

Root Vegetables Chips with Ground Almonds

 Ingredients:

25 g ground almonds

2 tbsp sunflower oil

salt and pepper

1 sweet potato cut into strips

½ courgette cut thick batons

Method:

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Roast the vegetables in an oven for half an hour or so until crisp at 200ºC. Remember to shake them after the first 15 minutes. Eat straight away.

Finally, something a little sweet to tantalise your taste buds! While desperately rifling through my fridge in search of a dessert based inspiration, I came across a rather large bag of lemons simply sitting there. I was in the mood for cake at this point and in attempt to deviate from a traditional lemon drizzle cake, I decided to throw in a couple handfuls of blueberries into the sponge mix to add both taste and appearance value to my lemon cake. I have to say, that blueberries look absolutely divine when baked in a cake as they almost burst due to the heat exposure and turn the most delicious colour! With a little lemon icing, this cake is a real treat on a spring afternoon with a good cup of earl grey!

blueberry mix

Blueberry and Lemon Cake

Ingredients:

100g self-raising flour

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

Tsp vanilla essence

Two handfuls of blueberries

Rind of one lemon

Method:

Cream the butter and the sugar with a wooden spoon and add the vanilla essence. Beat in the eggs, sift the flour and mix together well. Throw in the blueberries and lemon rind and gently stir. Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin (I used a 7”) and place in the oven at 180ºC for 25-30 minutes. When you can put a skewer in the centre and pull it out clean and/or the cake bounces lightly against your touch, it’s ready! Place on a cooling rack until completely cooled and serve with a delicious cup of earl grey tea.

sponge in tin

cake on stand

That’s it for this week! Have a very happy Easter and keep checking my blog for updates on my bake and bike service!

Lots of love,

E. Wells X

No Longer a Fool in Food

photo 3 (3)

Dearest Ample Followers! Hello and welcome to Ample Servings’ latest and greatest, new and improved food blog dedicated to sharing my growing knowledge of food and cuisine to you, the reader. From now on, I aim to take an active role in not only improving my learning and skills in food but through my culinary experiences (be they professional or amateur), I want to be able to pass on all I know to anyone who wishes learn them. To be able to cook good food; for friends, family or even yourself, can be an absolute pleasure and doesn’t require Michelin star level techniques! I will do my utmost to show you a range of dishes over the coming months to bring health, happiness and a touch of sweetness into your kitchen. And so we begin, Ample Servings’ food revolution here we come!

Technique of the Week

3 Ways to Remove the Skin Off a Garlic Clove brought to you from the Ample Kitchen.

Enjoy the music!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y37a28DTK0

Seemingly Seasonal

Want to get the most out of your fruit and vegetables this month? Here is a list I’ve put together of the most seasonal produce available to date. As previously mentioned in other blogs, if you can afford it, organic is always best not only for the environment but for taste, not to mention your health. Fewer toxins in your food make a happy body! Grow your own is always another possibility and can be quite fun to do. Whether it’s home grown strawberries, carrots or even watercress it is always satisfying!

Vegetables:

  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Morels (mushrooms)
  • New potatoes
  • Purple Broccoli
  • Radish
  • Most greens; lettuce, peas, salad leaves

 

Fruit:

  • Rhubarb
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Pomegranate

 

Culinary Query

From Christopher, Forest Hill

“I’m struggling to make my cauliflower cheese more interesting. Any ideas?”

Firstly, concentrate on making a good cheese sauce. Season well, add mustard for a kick and a little nutmeg to add a depth of flavour. Feel free to try other spices as well such as paprika. Mixing your cheese up can be quite fun too. Delia does quite a good basic recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/anykindofcheesesauce_70007.

Secondly, add a range of ingredients to the cauliflower mixture. Fry up some onions, a little bacon and steam some broccoli and cauliflower leaves. Note that cauliflower and broccoli have slightly different cooking times in reference to steaming.

 

This Weeks’ Recipes

Ottolenghi’s Eight Hour Pulled Pork

photo 1 (3)

Tender and melt in the mouth pork served with a rocket and pomegranate salad. Easy to make and incredibly delicious.

Pork Ingredients:

2.5kg pork shoulder, bone in

200ml cider vinegar

80g dark brown sugar

1 tbsp Szechuan pepper

5 cinnamon sticks

1 tbsp red chilli flakes

2¼ tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tomato paste

Salt

Salad Ingredients:

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced very thinly into pinwheels

100g pomegranate seeds (ie, the seeds of 1 medium pomegranate)

20g parsley, picked and roughly chopped

1 tbsp red-wine vinegar

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp olive oil

90g rocket

 

Method: www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/15/pulled-pork-recipe-ottolenghi-rabbit

 

Unknown

Ottolenghi’s Green Bean, Mangetout and Hazelnut Salad

Crunchy, refreshing and wonderfully fresh. Works well with the pork as an extra salad.

Ingredients:

400g green beans, stalks trimmed

400g mangetout (or sugar snaps, that works too)

70g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 orange, zested and juiced

20g chives, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp hazelnut oil (or walnut oil, which is what I used)

salt and pepper

Method:

Bring plenty of water to the boil in a large saucepan (you need a lot of space for the veggies, to preserve the colour). Blanch the beans in the water for 4 minutes, the drain them in a colander and run them under tap water until cold. Leave to drain and dry. It is really important to make sure that they get completely cold so that they don’t continue to cook – no-one wants overcooked green beans! Repeat this with the mangetout, but only cook for 1 minute (see above note).

Mix the garlic and chives with the oils, zest and a tbsp or so of orange juice, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the green beans and mangetout, and scatter the hazelnuts over the top.

Simon Rimmer’s Passion Fruit Tart

photo 2 (3)

Creamy and full of flavour. Ideal for dinner parties as you can make in advance!

Ingredients and recipe: www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/passionfruittart_85085

An Announcement

il_340x270.337208759

Bake & Bike Service Available Now!

Ample Servings is introducing an exciting, new ‘Bake and Bike’ service to South London. For all those moments when you require something of the baked variety but simply, can’t find the time nor the energy to do it, Ample Servings is here to save the day!  Using only the best ingredients, each week two items will be available to order online,  straight from my kitchen to your own front door for a small fee. At times they may be savoury and at others, they may be sweet.  Keep checking this blog to find out what is available and please feel free to email the kitchen for inquiries and requests! To order, simply send an email detailing what you would like, your delivery address (has to be South London) and the date & time you wish to receive it. You will receive a confirmation email when the order has gone through! Make sure you leave 48 hours between your order and expected delivery! Payment is made in cash, on delivery.

What’s on offer this week (3rd-10th April) :

Moist Marzipan Cake

(Serves 8)

-£9.00

Clementine Cake

(Serves 8)

-£9.50

That’s all for this week folks!

Until next time,

E. Wells Xx

Delivering on Taste and on Time

chilli

‘Lateness is something I cannot abide. It was instilled in me at a young age. And I do not tolerate it in my kitchen. That, and people turning up to work with hangovers. I bristle at the thought’.

-Michel Le Roux Jr

Welcome back ample friends, to the last food orientated entry of March 2014! In total, the number of blogs I have written stands tall to a figure of 17 entries, 18 including this one. Indeed time does fly when you’re having fun and time enjoyed is certainly not time wasted! In keeping of the season of Spring, I wish to instil a slighter fresher approach to cooking, a sort of ample servings renaissance, if you will. This is to say, making my growing knowledge of food and cuisine more accessible to you, the reader and the household cook! It’s all well and good drooling over an image of a slutty brownie or laughing at my chemical reaction cupcakes from last Valentine’s Day, however my aims have changed somewhat. You see, I quite want you all to be able to learn something from each entry if possible. My written musings can only entertain you so far and it would be wonderful if you could take something interesting and constructive away with you. If you so wish, that is! I promise it’s not like being back at school….

In order to spark off my ample servings ‘rebirth’, the following components that I will be adding to my weekly blog as of next week are;

  • a how to video cooking demonstration, simple culinary techniques and skills demonstrated in a vine or short YouTube clip,
  • seasonal produce discussions enabling you to cook with the most ripe and ready to eat fruit and vegetables and
  • my response to an ample readers culinary query or dilemma.

Should I be ashamed that the above makes me want to burst with excitement? Most probably, and yet I shall ignore any jeers of jibes for now! That awful saying, ‘new hair, new me’ springs to mind. The final addition to my blog is a little experimental so bear with me. I am very keen gather feedback from certain recipes particularly, when concerning baked goods such as; cakes, breads and scones. And so, I would like to see if on occasion, anyone would like to receive a box of something, delivered to their front door for a small fee. Any money made would go towards my culinary school funds and it would be ‘such fun’ making and baking for an actual order rather than a friend’s birthday request. My birthday request no doubt will take a steep dive now…sigh. If you’re at all interested, details will follow of my bake and deliver service shortly!

yep

This kind of thing

Right, how about some tasty grub? Seeing as we’re having some gorgeously sunny weather at present, I thought I might suggest some savoury tarts with a little green salad. Ideal for relatively healthy eating (don’t look at the butter content in puff pastry!) and perfect for a social occasion if you can’t really be bothered to spend that much time slaving away in the kitchen.

tarts

Savoury Sunday Tarts

(serves 3)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of premade puff pastry

Jar of basil pesto

Couple of handfuls of tomatoes, sliced in half

50g of goats cheese

Fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

Method:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the puff pastry to about ½ inch thickness and place on a flat baking tray. I try to keep it to a rectangle shape, but you can make it circular if you wish. Taking a generous spoonful of pesto, spread it all over the pastry. Place the tomatoes on top of the pesto in a uniform formation such as lines. It just looks nice. Crumble the goats’ cheese over the top of the tomatoes and feel free to use more than stated. Season the tart with salt and pepper, a few sprigs of thyme and even a dash of olive oil. Fresh basil leaves would add to the taste value here. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes at around 170-180ºC. When the pastry is crispy, brown and fairly hard to touch, it should be ready.

Tom tart

(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of premade puff pastry

Glug of oil

2 red onions

Tbsp. brown sugar

Balsamic or sherry vinegar

Pack of feta cheese

10 black olives

Rosemary sprigs

Salt and pepper

Method:

First, you need to caramelize your onions. Slice your red onions lengthways and place in a pan over a low heat with a little oil. Let them go very soft, then throw in the sugar and add a splash of vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You may want to add a little more vinegar or sugar depending on your personal preference. Like the tart above, roll out your pastry to a ½ inch thickness and place on a tray. Generously spoon on the onions and spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle over 50g of feta, the olives and season with the rosemary and salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 170-180ºC. Serve with a green leaf salad and some walnut oil or a balsamic dressing.

feta

Next on my list of delicious delights is from my Asian cooking class a few weeks ago! This is a wonderful recipe for pork and mushroom wontons. They are really fun to make in a group of friends,  and even more fun with little ones. Once you get the technique of sealing the wontons, it’s easy and goes down a treat with guests. Perfect to dip into sweet chilli sauce or light soy and you can cook them three different ways!

wontons

Pork and Mushroom Wontons

(Serves 5-6)

Spoonful of dried black mushrooms

3-4 normal mushrooms

2 leaves of bok choy

1 spring onion

1 tsp grated ginger

200g pork mince

1tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp cornflour

1tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

A cheeky chilli

Plenty of peanut oil

Wonton wrappers

Water in a little dish

Method:

wonton recipe

lots of wontons

Wonton prep! They look like their wearing tuxes!

done

These are boiled for 8-10 mins. You can steam or fry your wontons for the same amount of time if you want a different texture. Strangely, boiled were my favourite.

Our final recipe today is something quite lovely from Great British Chefs Online. It’s a dark chocolate and malt tart which goes perfectly with a little burnt caramel ice cream and fresh strawberries. The homemade pastry with real vanilla seeds makes all the difference. This recipe went down an absolute storm last Sunday lunch with two super foodies, Libby and Fab. If anyone knows good food, it’s this dashing duo.

chocolate tart

Dark Chocolate and Malt Tart

Ingredients:

(Tart pastry)

3 large egg yolks

1/2 vanilla pod

250g of plain flour

50g of icing sugar

150g of butter

(Chocolate and malt filling)

500ml of double cream

1 tbsp of Horlicks

2 large eggs

400g of dark chocolate

  • For the method click the link here:

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/chocolate-malt-tart-recipe

Until April my ample followers! If you have any burning culinary queries that you would like solved or any techniques you would like me show you, email me directly on ampleservings@outlook.com and I will respond via my blog next month. I hope you’re excited for the new changes. Gods knows, I am!

E. Wells Xx

Butcher, Baker, Apple Pie Maker

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‘A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age’.
-William Shakespeare

It is without question, that the last week has seen an abundance of culinary discoveries within the ample servings’ kitchen. Aside from the usual trialing of new recipes and culinary techniques, receiving the stamp of approval from my cooking school in London,  I have spent a day in the most wonderful organic butchers learning; knife skills, different cuts of meat and trade secrets. In an attempt to investigate as many areas of cuisine as possible before I begin my formal teachings later this year, I have certainly come into contact with some of the most talented and respected individuals in their field. And yet, nothing quite prepared me for my meeting with Mr Brian Randall, more commonly known as ‘the butcher’ last Tuesday at 5 o’clock in the morning.

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Spitalfields Meat Market

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Hanging meat, waiting to be collected.

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Cow tongues…eurgh

Brian is one of the few people I have ever met who takes genuine pride in his work. Working his way up the butcher line from the age of fifteen or so, Brian now owns his own butchers on the Wandsworth Bridge Road, a stone’s throw from Parsons Green Tube Station. Collecting his meat orders daily from Spittlefields market at the crack of dawn, he arrives to his shop by 6.30am in order to set up and lay out his produce. Not only does Brian offer his meat pre-marinated and au natural, both himself and his colleagues spend around two and a half hours preparing and arranging the meat counter. Forgive me if I sound a little soppy, but I never knew meat could look beautiful. Food is most certainly an art and this couldn’t be more prevalent in Brian’s meat display. Everything from homemade fat, juicy sausages to venison steaks, to little quails are available to buy. Not to mention fresh and organic eggs, chutneys and delicious cheeses. I must admit, my watering mouth became a slight hindrance to my foodie discussions with Brian during these few hours in question. For meat fans in want of recommendations, I will say from personal experience get your hands on the; marinated ribs, lamb burgers and the mustard marinated pork loins. However, don’t let my personal choices get in your way of anything else on the counter as it all looks divine!

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Behold the triangular lamb burgers!

A secret recipe sort after by Mrs Gordon Ramsey herself!

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The marinated meats

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Try the mustard pork, it’s delicious!

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The plain meats

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Some juicy steaks, pigs, chickens and that rabbit

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Brian Randall, hard at work!

After a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea, Brian set me down stairs with the boys to practice some knife skills. Hesitantly at first, I filleted my first lamb neck and it was bloody brilliant. Using a smallish sharp knife, I was taught to move the blade along the bone and trim off the inedible bits around the edges of the meat. Butchery is without a doubt technical mastery but utterly fascinating. Unfortunately, the presence of such sharp knives can be slightly hazardous but it comes with the territory! Darcy Bussell had ugly feet, and through cooking I shall have ugly hands. It is a burden I am willing to undertake in order to learn more about making the most of the ‘good stuff’ aka organic meats. So far, none of the guys working for Brian have more than a few scars from years working in said industry. Apparently you can buy chain mail gloves to protect your knife-free hand however, I wanted to be one of the ‘big boys’ and join in the fun without protective armour. So far so good, I still have my left hand in tact!

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Filleting a lamb neck

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My first attempt at filleting a neck

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Chain mail butcher glove!

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Surrounded by cow carcasses!

As a thanks to Brian for having looked after me so well, I decided to make him a homemade apple pie of which I would like to share the recipe with you, my delightful ample followers. If you’re wondering why I made a simple apple pie instead of something a little more complex, apparently a good apple pie is Brian’s favourite. I highly recommend this Hairy Bikers recipe and advice you all to;

pie

- dust your pie lid with brown sugar or even cinnamon sugar after an egg wash before placing in the oven to make it extra special

-have fun with the pastry decoration/cuttings such as leaves, letters or even little apples to give it your own, individual touch.

pie 2

Right, the next few culinary treats are very dessert orientated. Apologies for this but they are worth making, both in equal measure. The first baked good of today is a flourless, chocolate and pear cake made with ground hazelnuts. For all you anti-gluten fans out there, this cake is ideal and it really delivers on texture. A word of caution however, take cake when removing from the cake tin as the sponge is fairly moist due to the excess pear juice and is likely to break if not handled with care! This recipe is from Good Food Magazine online.

Pear

Flourless, Chocolate and Pear cake

Ingredients:

85g butter, plus 1 tbsp extra for tin

85g golden caster sugar, plus extra for tin

85g gluten-free dark chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tbsp brandy

3 eggs, separated

85g hazelnuts, toasted and ground in a food processor

4 very ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored

icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit the base of a 25cm loose-bottomed tin. Melt 1 tbsp butter and brush the inside of the tin, then line the base with the parchment and brush again with more butter. Spoon in 2 tbsp caster sugar, swirl it around to coat the base and sides, then tip out any excess.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, remove from the heat, stir in the brandy and leave to cool. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick; fold into the chocolate with the hazelnuts.
  3. In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the whites until they reach a soft peak (try not to whisk them too stiffly or you’ll have trouble folding them in). Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions. Spoon into the prepared tin. Level, then arrange the pears over the mixture, cut-side down. Bake for 40 mins until the pears are soft and the cake is cooked all the way through. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before releasing it, then place on a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve with crème fraîche.

The next sweet attraction is a lovely little recipe that I came across many years ago at Garsons Farm. Popular with both children and adults, these carrot and apple cupcakes are a healthier treat to serve at teatime instead of shop bought chocolate cake. The cream cheese frosting is delightful but not necessary if you’re trying to avoid sugar. Perfect for an afternoon tea, you MUST try these this weekend!

garsons

Carrot and Apple Cupcakes

(Makes 15 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

125g carrots (2 large), grated

2 English apples grated

225g self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

140g light muscavado sugar

2 Free range eggs beaten

140ml sunflower oil

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

30g walnuts, chopped

 

For the topping:

30g full fat soft cheese

30g soft margarine

125g icing sugar

a few drops almond essence

walnut halves to decorate

Method:

 1. Pre-heat oven to 175˚C/ 350 ˚F/ Gas Mark 4.

2. Measure all the cake ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together

thoroughly.

3. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, about two thirds full.

4. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. A skewer inserted into the cakes should pull out

clean when these are cooked.

5. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Combine the topping ingredients and mix well.

Decorate cakes and top with a walnut halve.

These must be stored in the fridge because of the buttercream icing.

apple

That is all for this week! Enjoy the sunshine this fine weekend and carry on baking!

E. Wells Xx

A Touch of Spice in Spring

chilli

She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.” 

-A.A Milne

Hello ample darlings! What a wonderful start to spring we’ve had so far. All these sunny starts and tepid to pleasant temperatures warrant a celebration, a culinary celebration that is! Prepare for this weeks’ double helping of Thai cuisine inspired from an ex-professional chef and Good Food Guide critic’s cookery class and some ideas on how to celebrate pancake day in health and style! Fortunately for us all, not only has this week permitted me ample time in the kitchen (see what I did there?), but I was lucky enough to enjoy the wonderful company of Miss Grace Jenkins in my kitchen which can only mean one thing….some excellent photos! Let the spicy, spring games commence!

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Chef Margaret

Sometime ago, a friend of mine put me in contact with the food critic mentioned above and after a few emails, chef Margaret invited me to help her out in one of her cookery classes. With a professional kitchen installed in her home not far from Richmond Park’s Ham Gate, Margaret has taught cookery lessons to all ages and levels for the past three years. She cooks everything from French patisserie to Iranian cuisine and is the absolute star of the show. The class that I attended was in fact specifically tailored for a client’s wishes, which was Asian style cooking class. Sat round a cooking ‘island’ with five mothers from the local area we spent just over four hours swapping culinary techniques, drinking white wine and eating the food prepared by both Margaret and ourselves. It is from this class that I would like to share two brilliant tried and tested recipes straight from a professional kitchen! You lucky buggers!

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The first dish is an absolute classic, chicken satay. However, this has to be the best I’ve EVER tried and I mean it. The recipe may be a little longer than your average satay recipe but trust me, it’s worth it. This includes not just peanuts but cashews too, in the words of Hal, this is delish.

Chicken Satay

Marinade:

1tbsp coriander seeds

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped

2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

1tbsp vegetable oil

1tbsp kecap manis

1tsp soy sauce

Peanut and cashew dipping sauce:

2 bird’s eye chillies, seeded and finely chopped

5 shallots, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ shrimp paste

1tbsp vegetable oil

150ml coconut milk

1tbsp cashew nut butter

2tbsp sugar

100g unsalted peanuts, roasted and whizzed

50g roasted cashews and whizzed

2tsp kecap manis

Juice of 1 lime

First make the marinade. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, and then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and pound to a rough paste along with a generous grinding of black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, kecap manis and soy sauce.

Cut the chicken into long strips about 3cm wide and stir into the marinade, mixing well. Cover, refrigerate and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes if you’ve got it, and up to 12 hours. Soak skewers in cold water until ready to use.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the chillies, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan, and then fry the paste until it smells cooked. Add the coconut milk and palm sugar and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the peanuts and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the kecap manis and lime juice, add a little water or coconut milk if it’s too thick, then taste to check the balance of flavours; add more lime juice, sugar or soy sauce if you think it’s lacking. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thread the strips of meat onto the skewers. Cook the skewers on a barbecue or a griddle pan over a medium-high heat, for about 20 minutes until cooked through, turning regularly. You can turn the heat down to medium on the griddle after all are well charred. Don’t worry about black bits, they add flavour.

 The next delectable dish all the way from Thailand is a gorgeous Kung Po Prawn curry. Honestly, this is a winner of meal. You would be foolish not to make this! Get yourself down to your local Thai Supermarket or even Waitrose (they do everything) and stock up on supplies such as peanut oil, kaffir leaves and different types of soy.

photo 1

Kung Po Prawns

 200g raw king prawns

3tbsp roasted peanuts

5-10 dried red chillies

3tbsp peanut oil

5 slices peeled fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

100g water chestnuts, sliced

Marinade:

1tbsp corn flour

2 tsp soy sauce

Glug of Shaoxing wine

1tsp peanut oil

1 egg white, broken up with a fork (this “velvets” your prawns meaning it makes them lovely and smooth)

Sauce:

2tbsp light soy sauce

1tsp dark soy sauce

1tsp sugar

A drop or two of black vinegar

2tbsp water

1tsp corn flour

Cut the prawns along their backs to butterfly them. Mix the marinade ingredients, add the prawns and set aside for 30 mins. Meanwhile mix the sauce ingredients together.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok with a splash of cooking oil and stir-fry the prawns till they just begin to go pink, but don’t cook them all the way through. Scoop them into their bowl again.

Add another splash of oil. Heat till it smokes. Add in the ginger and garlic slices and do a quick stir fry before adding in the dried red chillies. Stir fry until aromatic and they smell spicy, them put the prawns back in.

Stir through before adding in the roasted peanuts and continue to stir a few times, until the nuts start to colour.

Add the sauce and stir continuously until it looks like a dish. Add the spring onion and water chestnuts stir round and serve.

mixing

Now, seeing as it’s pancake day, I feel that I must contribute a few ideas your way! I recommend Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s classic French crêpe recipe if you’re a thin pancake kinda’ gal/guy. I found this recipe on the channel four website. A word of caution, make sure you have hot oil in your pan before you pour in the batter otherwise the pancake won’t work at all!

Flour weighing

Good fillings include;

Sweet

  • Lemon juice, sugar and fresh blueberries
  • Nutella and strawberries
  • Double cream, dulche de leche and sliced bananas

pancake

finished pancake

Savoury

  • Emmental and ham
  • Creamy mushrooms and spinach
  • Chorizo and chedder cheese

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/pancakes-recipe

If you like a more American style pancake hit up Jamie Oliver. Nothing beats these fluffy clouds of yum. Yes, I did just say something utterly ridiculous.

Add to the batter:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh corn
  • Fruit purée
  • Chocolate drops

xy

Add to serve:

  • Maple syrup and bacon
  • Yoghurt, fruit and honey
  • Chocolate or toffee sauce and ice cream

photo (9)

Blueberry pancakes served with bananas, raspberries, natural yoghurt, bacon and maple syrup.

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/eggs-recipes/pancakes-usa-stylie

Until next week ample folk! I have some wonderful stories and of course, some fantastic recipes from my time spent at an Organic Butchers.

Love and pancakes to all!

E. Wells