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

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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

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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

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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

chain

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!

photo 2

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

The Log of love

cutlery

The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number

-P.G. Wodehouse

Good afternoon food lovies and welcome to ample servings’ pink and fluffy Valentine’s Day edition. Oh yes indeedy, it’s that time of the year again when one can show their affection for friends, lovers, partners and anything in between by means of a miniature teddy bear clutching a soft, red heart. Eurgh I hear some of you mutter and feel free to do so! As you can probably tell the awkward, forced romance doesn’t quite float my boat either and yet, deep down I know I’m not alone in thinking that a handful of beautiful flowers wouldn’t sink my ship either! Therefore, today I have a smattering of affectionate based ideas that can be forged in your kitchen because as we all know, one way to a person’s heart is through their stomach! So, whether you fancy making a batch of heart-shaped biscuits for your best friend, a few pistachio macaroons for your mum and dad or slow roasted skirt of pork for your boyfriend, you are in the right place. I quite feel like embracing the love this week and it just so happens I have a lot to give! Prepare yourself for a foodie fiesta as I’ve been up to a lot of culinary good this week.

In preparation for attending cooking school, I’m trying to gain as much experience by means of cooking technique and specialising in different areas (such as; fish, meat etc) so that I am fully prepared for the task ahead. You fortunate souls have so far seen it all from successful patisserie to not so successful pasta….and back again to some very impressive latte art! And yet this week I have something even more exciting, drumroll please…food styling! Last Wednesday I took part as an assistant chef on a food photo shoot for a broadsheet weekend newspaper in Peckham. Head chef Dagmar and I, cooked from morning to night from a long list of recipes created by Gizzi Erskine and boy, it was fun! The themes of the day were cheap cuts of meat (and what to do with them) and British classics with a twist. Until the recipes are officially released I mustn’t say too much about how we cooked the dishes but I can certainly point you in the right direction.

another kitchen

Serving props and equipment

kitchen

The working kitchen mid shoot

beef

Four packs of beef fat. Vegetarians looks away! We were making chips…

Things to consider when cooking meat and classic dishes:

1. Always try to buy your meat from a butcher. It’s commonly thought that this means your meat will be ten times more expensive than a supermarket, that’s just not true. The thing is, your butcher knows meat and can advise you what cut to choose depending on what you would like to do with it. The meat is often not any more expensive and to be honest, you’re getting your money’s worth in more ways than one. An example of a cheap cut are chicken thighs. In my opinion they are far more delicious than chicken breasts but few people realise this! Thighs are a lot cheaper too. Most cheap cuts taste gorgeous marinated and cooked on a low heat for a good few hours such as pork knuckle or shins but if in doubt ask the man with the meat cutter what he does at home. They really do know their stuff plus, they know where your meat comes from which IS important. If you find yourself in South East London I recommend; Flock and Herd and Willliam Rose and if you find yourself in SW6 hit up the infamous organic Randalls Butchers. In the words of the man himself Brian Randall, he got ‘a lifetimes worth of knowledge’ about meat.

meat

2. It seems to me that classic English dishes are often slated for their simplicity with comments such as, ‘oh I just made some boring mince for supper’ or ‘we’ve made a pretty standard pudding, don’t get too excited’ which is quite simply unfair. Classic dishes such as lasagne (not originally English but hey ho), sausages and mash and rice pudding can be made just as exciting, nutritious and most certainly delicious with some very easy twists. For example, mustard grain mash makes everything taste better! Try using different types of meat in your mince such as chicken livers, pork or even veal mince. Be adventurous with your herbs, season well and keep checking to taste. In my winter rice pudding I like using rose water and sprinkle with toasted pistachios and yet, a dollop of raspberry jam does the trick just as well. Why not try using stewed fruits such as apricots? The list is endless. The key message here is, in order to make our food more interesting, we have to be open to new ideas and ingredients.

Inspired by both my stepmother’s love of satay chicken and the idea of using cheap cuts from the shoot, feel free to try this very easy and yet absolutely delicious peanut curry made with chicken thighs.

curry

Chilli Satay Curry

A box of four organic chicken thighs

One small jar of organic peanut butter

2 tins of coconut milk

One red chilli (add more if you like it hot, hot, hot)

One big onion

Two cloves of garlic, crushed

One box of stir fry vegetables (includes beansprouts, water chestnuts etc)

Tsp of cumin, one of ground coriander and one of turmeric

A small piece of lemongrass

One kaffir lime leaf

Splash of oil

Place a saucepan on a medium heat and place the oil,  all the spices including the kaffir lime, lemongrass stick and chopped chillies and gently stir. After a few minutes, add the garlic and then the finely sliced onions  and continue to stir them until they are translucent. Next add the chicken which should be cut into small pieces.  Once the chicken is almost cooked through, add the vegetables. Once the chicken is cooked (juices run clear), empty in the peanut butter and two tins of coconut milk. Season the curry and mix well. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes and serve with basmati rice.

Last week I had a little adventure to Christ Church College in Oxford. On the Friday evening a big guest dinner was held for all the undergraduate students and oh my, there were some delightful dishes served. As I have been out and about this past week, I’m going to direct you to some wonderful tried and tested recipes that I often prepare for a dinner party at mine (sans images) inspired by the meal I heartily consumed with my red haired partner, the lovely Flora.

menu

The menu

scallops

Scallops. Delicious.

I do believe we should move on to some desserts now. I have no problem admitting that the past two days in the kitchen has left me very frustrated. Note to all cooks, French macaroons are not meant to be cooked in an aga. Not being able to see them rise, smell them baking or even control the temperature makes them a bit of a bugger to make. I’ve successfully made some pistachio macaroons from the goddess Nigella way back when but today, I made two batches (because the first were an absolute flop!) of pink almond macaroons with a chocolate ganache filling. My lovely photographer, Grace is hard at work organising a new exhibition so unfortunately you will have to succumb to my instagram snaps instead. The only thing I will say with French macaroons is, take your time reading the recipe. Oh, and keep extra supplies of ground almonds. Oops! That’s two things…hehe. Follow the link below to see the recipe I used which is from the Great British Bake Off!

macaroons

Very mediocre in presentation but they did taste rather nice.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/macaroons_16105

Another treat that has given me a bit o’ jip this week are my love buns (matron!). I saw this excellent picture of a cake cut in half with a heart shape inside of it and wanted to make my own. The process isn’t all that difficult and yet, when I practiced the technique with pink food colouring, the heart disappeared completely and I have no idea why! When I used cocoa to make a chocolate heart, the process worked. I am confodelled followers…..and quite miffed. For the blonde buns with a chocolate heart I used a simple Victoria Sponge foundation and cocoa for the heart and for the batch with the MISSING HEART (how sad!!) I made a lovely lemon and blueberry cake. I will continue to pursue my internal heart shaped cakes until perfect but until then, amuse yourself with my heartbreak!

cakee

(What they should look like)

Victoria/Vanilla Cupcakes 

4oz self-raising flour

4oz butter

4oz caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Cream the butter and the sugar with a wooden spoon. When the mixture looks light and cream in colour add the flour, eggs and vanilla essence. Separate a little of the mixture, say three tablespoons worth and add the cocoa powder to it. Place the chocolate mixture in a small, rectangle tray lined with grease proof paper and bake in the oven at 180C for around 10-15 minutes. Once the sponge bounces back against your touch, it should be ready. Place on a cooling rack until cold. Then, cut little heart shaped shapes out of the chocolate sponge using a biscuit cutter. You could use any shape cutter here, I just chose hearts as it’s Valentine’s Day soon! Next, some papercases and pop them in a cupcake tin. Put a little victoria sponge mixture in the bottom and place the chocolate heart on top, standing tall. Cover the heart with your remaining vanilla mixture and bake again in the oven for 10-15 minutes further. Once cooked through, let them go cold on a cooling rack and choose whether you would like to put any icing on top. Butter icing is good here but so is a chocolate ganache or even icing sugar and lemon juice. You decide!

cupcakes

Lemon and Blueberry Cupcakes

4oz self-raising flour

4oz butter

4oz caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

Two handfuls of blueberries

Zest of one lemon

Tbsp of lemon juice

Similar to above, cream butter and the sugar and then add all the ingredients. Share out the mixture into paper cases and bake in the oven at 180C for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack and then cover the top with a lemon and icing sugar topping. I used pink colouring in my icing mixture (as you can see) which actually made it look like a Valentine’s Day bear sneezed all over it. I was trying to cover up the fact I used golden icing sugar…never again. Always use normal white icing sugar for cupcakes as it is a much nicer colour! I didn’t include the heart technique here because it didn’t work. I promise to revisit this idea in the future.

Let’s move onto something a little more successful eh?! Next we have some homemade custard cream biscuits. My siblings scoffed these little hearts in an instant. I would recommend these highly, again another Nigella! A great recipe to make as a gift or with family and friends.

Custard cream recipe

biscuits cutting

biscuits

Lastly, I have something a little naughty for all you chocolate lovers! A raspberry, chocolate roulade from The Aga Bible. Yes, I decided to bake something Aga friendly just to be safe!

rasp

Chocolate and Raspberry Roulade

Serves 6

6 eggs

100g golden caster sugar

35g self-raising flour

35g cocoa powder

icing sugar for dusting

For the filling:

200ml creme fraiche

200ml double cream

150g white chocolate

250g raspberries

roulade recipe

Right, that’s it this week you lovely people. I’ll be back next week with stories from my trip to the meat market with Brian Randall!

Love to all and eat well,

emily

oh, and don’t forget to buy that bear! I found mine on the haribo packet..

I was clearly delighted.

E. Wells Xx

Kitchen Terms Only

black jumper

Mark Antony: All right, look here Marcus…
Spencius: No, no, I’m Spencius. ‘S my brother what’s Marcus.We’re in partnership now, you know. Marcus & Spencius.

-Carry on Cleo

Welcome back ample lovelies! What a dreary day we do find our-selves in this grey January morning. The clouds are low, the sky is bleak and yet, the glowing light of the ample servings kitchen never ceases to falter! It may be icy cold outside but boy, I’ve got some naughty nibbles, sweet roasted peppers and a smattering of coffee techniques to keep you burning this winter. January blues is not a term used in my kitchen. I much prefer words such as, blanche or flambé. Food is seasonal and therefore infinitely wonderful and exciting even during a grey season such as janvier. So, pull on your deliciously warm, although perhaps not the most stylish jumper, jump under a duvet and let your eyes feast on this week’s recipes from yours truly.

To start us off, I wish to share with you a lovely and ever so simple dish that works particularly well for dinner parties. Earlier, I called them sweet roasted peppers but they are also stuffed! Inspired by classic Spanish cuisine, these peppers are slow cooked with a good dash of olive oil, cherry tomatoes, a few pieces of garlic and a sneaky anchovy. Anchovy haters, please do not hate in this instance as they work tremendously well in this dish. Their saltiness works wonders against the sweetness of the pepper skins. With a little bit of seasoning, these little gems go down an utter treat with a little rocket on the side.

peppers

Sweet Roasted (and stuffed) Red Peppers

(serves 2)

Two red peppers

Four tbsp. of olive oil

Six cherry tomatoes

Four anchovies (from a jar is best)

Two cloves of garlic finely sliced

This recipe is pretty much an assembly of ingredients popped into the oven for 15 minutes or so. Turn your oven to 180-200ºC and split your red peppers in half and lie  them on a baking tray. Fill each half with three halves of cherry tomatoes, a few slices of garlic, one anchovy fillet and a tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Once the peppers turn a little darker and the tomatoes are nicely cooked pull the tray out and leave the peppers to rest a few minutes. A perfect treat when warm but equally tasty to eat cold the next day.

cooked peppers

There is a lovely little café not far from me called ‘Tried and True’ whom are notorious in South West London for their delicious brunches and tasty coffee. Not long ago, I ordered their glorious creamy mushrooms with basil pesto served on homemade soda bread and it was to die for. I thought I should give this recipe a go myself. This takes minutes to make and is bound to warrant some admirers when you settle down at the breakfast table on a Saturday morning with this on your plate.

mush in a pan

Creamed Mushrooms with Basil Pesto

(serves 1)

Knob of butter

Five chestnut mushrooms

Tbsp double cream

Homemade basil pesto (see previous posts for recipe)

Soda or challah bread

Salt and pepper

Rocket

Place toast under the grill for two minutes (or toaster). In a saucepan, melt a knob of butter and throw in the sliced mushrooms.  Cook them slows until they look almost wilted and are soft to touch. Season with salt and pepper and add the double cream and take off the heat. Thinly spread your pesto onto the toasted bread and place on a plate with a few rocket leaves. Arrange the toast neatly and pour on the creamy mushroom liquid. A few basil leaves on top make great presentation but aren’t necessary. This is one quick and easy weekend breakfast.

mush on toast

Now, that your sitting comfortably let’s move onto to this week’s sweet delights. A key lime pie is always something I rather fancied making and to be quite honest I have no idea why. I didn’t actually know what a key lime pie involved exactly but I can tell you now that in the recipe I used there was only lime, no kiwis….bizarre indeed. I think the name attracted me as it sounds a tad exotic and after all my baileys cupcakes, I wanted a fresh and zingy dessert to in the words of my younger brother Henry, ‘take the taste away’. And so, I give you just that. A very zingy and delicious pie (more like a cheesecake let’s me honest) which will please all around the dinner table after a heavy meal. However, don’t be fooled in thinking it’s healthier because it involves fruit. I promise you that this dessert is in a similar vein as my others, it’s quite filthy. Ooh err…

limes

blender shot

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2155644/key-lime-pie

lime pie

Finally, we move on to something very special and just a little bit sexy. Ladies and gentlemen this is my most requested birthday dessert  since I began baking, Nigella’s chocolate pavlova. I cannot stress enough how easy this dessert is to make! The taste to speed to make ratio is beyond comprehension. This recipe never, ever fails to provoke wails of happiness and twinkling smiles. If you want to make someone feel loved, serve this for dessert or even better, for breakfast! Nigella suggests you serve this meringue with double cream and raspberries but usually I mix up the soft fruit a bit. Don’t get me wrong, raspberries are wonderful but there is no harm in throwing in a few strawberries and blueberries too.  This dessert is utterly gorgeous and a real treat. Enjoy.

photo (4)

Chocolate Pavlova

(for the chocolate meringue base)

6 large egg whites

300 grams caster sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped)

(for the topping)

500 ml double cream

200 grams raspberries

200 grams strawberries

100 grams blueberries

3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm / 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.

When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate’s rim.

Before I love you and leave you dear friends, I have promised to pass over some coffee making tips! Coffee has become a BIG DEAL in recent years particularly, in London town and I feel it’s my duty to tell you of all I have learnt. Having worked in a coffee shop and now a pizzeria which sells anything from a cappuccino to a irish latte I have a fairly good idea on how to make a decent mug of joe (shout out to Mr. Joseph Silverman here!). And yet, I am pleased to tell you all that I learnt further technique and knowledge about those little beans of energy at a coffee training earlier this week. Here are my five steps to make great coffee with the help of my Australian teacher-

photo (3)

1. Where is your coffee from?

Arabica is the slightly rarer and most sort after coffee bean which we use at work. Grown at high altitudes and hand-picked. Incredibly tasty coffee found in Indonesia. I am of the hippy dippy mind-set that if your food was grown well and cared for, it will taste better. These beans are well nurtured!

 2. Grind your beans well

Your grind setting is the key to the type of coffee you will ultimately receive. A shot of espresso should take between 27-30 seconds to filter through the machine and produce a small layer of crema. If the shot takes a shorter amount of time that stated above, the grind was too big and if the shot took much longer, the grind was too small. Fiddle with your grind until your espresso time is perfect.

3. Level off your coffee

When you pull the lever to release the coffee, be confident. One pull should be enough for one shot. If you think it isn’t enough, throw the ground beans back into the machine and start again. One pull of the leaver should produce a little mound in the hand filter which comes up to the line inside of it. Placing the filter on a hard surface, tamp the grind. Hit the left and right side gently and then push down on the grind. Tamp left and right again and wipe off the excess coffee grind on the edges with your hand. Then fix the filter into the coffee machine after releasing a little water to clear the coffee machine’s filter by pressing the one shot button.

4. Be quick!

The longer you leave your shot sitting in the coffee machine, the more your coffee will be ruined. The heat from the coffee machine can actually burn your shot of coffee so, as soon as you place your shot in the machine and your coffee cup is placed underneath, press the one shot button!

5. Milk technique

After you beans, your milk is the most important ingredient to get right in your coffee. There are two types of milk; foam for a cappuccino or macchiato and latte milk for everything else.

-For foam, use fresh milk in a metal jug and use a thermometer. You do not want your milk to heat up above 140ºC. Place the steam nozzle just below the surface of the milk and once it starts to get warmer, place the nozzle slightly deeper into to milk and circulate. At 140ºC remove the foam and pour into the cappuccino cup sideways thus using the maximum amount of foam and only a little liquid milk onto your one shot.

-For latte milk, use fresh milk when possible to reduce the risk of growing bacteria and hold the jug at a 45º angle. Place the nozzle under the milk’s surface and once it begins to heat it up, place a little deeper. Once the milk reaches 140ºC, turn off the steamer and gently bang the bottom of the jug against a hard surface to remove any bubbles. Swirl the milk a little until it looks like glittery egg whites and pour over your coffee shots (two shots for latte).

Next week, I’ll tell you how to do latte art! Until then, you can be amazed by my little latte heart.

cofeee

Love to all and thank you Grace Jenkins for your brilliant photos. Oh and please keep voting for my Cordon Bleu application video. The closing deadline is in six days! Just click the THUMBS UP icon on the top left hand corner: http://ukscholarship.cordonbleu.edu/videos/all-videos/item/911-emily-wells#.UuI65RDFLIV

E. Wells

Tittle tattle and a little tipple

ample top

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

- Dr Seuss

Good morrow ample followers! I hope this latest blog finds you all most well and contented on this cold but bright Friday afternoon. I feel that an apology is an order before I begin listing my weekly plethora of culinary delights. Indeed I am sorry to admit this blog is a little overdue however, I believe I have a valid excuse. As you may be aware I am a ‘chef in training’ hoping to gain a place at the esteemed centre of excellence, The Cordon Bleu London. In order to apply for the scholarship programme 2013 resulting in a fully paid course worth £30,000 and an apprenticeship at The Ritz at the end of the nine month course, I have to submit an application video lasting one minute and a half in length. Despite its short length, the video itself took an awfully long time to put together and I’m afraid I had to put my ample cooking on the back burner (aka stove) for a few days. If you wish to see for yourself what kept me so busy this past week, click on the link below. And if you’re feeling very generous you can even vote for my video by clicking the thumbs up button on the top left hand corner. You see, fifteen candidates for the scholarship go through to the next round by choice of the Cordon Bleu board and the sixteenth goes through by gaining the highest number of votes on their video. I’m currently on 680 votes and would be grateful of your vote. Thank you.

em vid

Moving swiftly on! Let’s talk about tarts, baileys infused cupcakes and stewed figs. Over the past two days, I have been scurrying about the kitchen putting various dishes and desserts together in order to soothe your appetite. Today we shall begin with a little treat, a tart in fact but not just any old tart, a Portuguese one. I first tried this recipe when Jamie’s 30 minutes meals aired our screens in 2010.  For many years now, my mother has bought home the most divine Portuguese custard tarts from a little café in Vauxhall and I fancied making my own. If made from scratch, I’m sure the taste would be just that little more sweet and yet, the pre-bought puff pastry does the job if you’re in a hurry. These little darlings are simply delightful with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The orange flavoured caramel is delicious. Enjoy!

portuguese tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Plain flour, for dusting

1 x 375g pack of pre-rolled puff pastry

Ground cinnamon

125g crème fraiche

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract

5 tbsp golden caster sugar

1 orange

Dust a clean surface with flour. Unroll the sheet of pastry, then cut it in half so you end up with two 20 x 20cm squares of pastry (put one in the fridge for another day). Sprinkle over a few good pinches of ground cinnamon, then roll the pastry into a Swiss roll shape and cut into 6 rounds. Put these into 6 of the holes in a muffin tin, and use your thumbs to stretch and mould the pastry into the holes so the bottom is flat and the pastry comes up to the top. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for around 8 to 10 minutes (set the timer), or until lightly golden. Spoon the crème fraîche into a small bowl. Add the egg, vanilla paste or extract, 1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar and the zest of 1 orange. Mix well. Take the muffin tin out of the oven, and use a teaspoon to press the puffed up pastry back to the sides and make room for the filling. Spoon the crème fraîche mixture into the tart cases, and return to the top shelf of the oven. Set the timer for 8 minutes. Put a small saucepan on a high heat. Squeeze in the juice from the zested orange and add 4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar. Stir and keep a good eye on it, but remember caramel can burn badly so don’t touch or taste.  Pour some caramel over each tart (they’ll still be wobbly, but that’s good). Put aside to set.

cupcakes

Yesterday, a lovely young lady named Milly joined me in the kitchen for an afternoon of baking. She told me about a family friend who brought round some homemade baileys cupcakes to her house at Christmas and needless to say, I was quite taken with this idea. Cupcake fans around the world, if you haven’t made these before, do so. In fact, do it NOW. I am often of the opinion that cupcakes are overrated but I promise you, these are gorgeous and very quick to make. Not only is the icing heavenly but the sponge is as light as a feather. Click on the link below to take you to the best recipe to date. Perfect for a naughty after dinner treat, or in my case breakfast….

Going back a fair few years ago, my mother and stepfather held a dinner party in which my mother cooked ‘pistou’ a warming French stew with homemade pesto sitting on the top and a family friend, Mark made baked figs in port for dessert. The meal was wonderful and my mother raved about the fig dish for some time afterwards. It was effortlessly delicious and so, I attempted to recreate this dish on my own. Mark definitely baked his figs in the oven and they were notably fresh. In an ovenproof dish he placed figs, doused them in alcohol and threw in a vanilla pod and a little honey. For my recreation I used dried figs, just because they were at hand and I wanted to see if they would work. In a saucepan over a low heat, I placed three dried figs and decanted a lug of port. Next, I placed a cinnamon stick and a vanilla pod into the liquid and sprinkled a little ginger. The syrupy port softened the dried figs quite quickly and then, I placed the figs on a tower of crème fraiche and poured a little of the liquid. I then consumed it instantly. This would work very well for a quick fix dessert as it incorporates many ingredients found in a kitchen just after a gluttonous time of the year.

figs

Now, the last thing recipe I wish to share with you today is something a ‘spin off’ dish from Jamie Oliver’s Indian salad. Everyone likes fajitas because they’re quick and tasty but far too often do we extend a hand to old el paso’s packets of instant flavour. If you fancy taking a stroll down health conscious lane I have a solution, curry paste. This dish is ideal for students as it’s fairly cheap to make and satisfies the needs of both boys and girls.

fajitas one

Spiced Fajitas

(For Two)

Four wraps

Two chicken thighs, cut into thin strips

One red pepper

Two onions, chopped lengthways

Tikka masala paste (patak’s will do nicely!)

A bag of spinach

Greek yoghurt

Mango chutney

Rub two tablespoons of paste into the chicken thighs and leave for five minutes. Then, place a pan on a medium heat with a little oil and throw in the chicken which is now cut into thin strips. Cook for a few minutes then add the onions and season. After a further few minutes add the red pepper which is also sliced lengthways and stir till the chicken is cooked through. Finally, add the spinach which should wilt very quickly. Heat the wraps in the oven for a couple of minutes at 180ºC and then lie two wraps on each plate. Place a little chicken mixture in the centre, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of mango chutney. Wrap up the wrap and consume.

 fajita two

Until next week ample followers!

E. Wells

A Stuffed Bird

FINISHED MOUSE

MAÎTRE D: And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.

MR. CREOSOTE: Nah.

MAÎTRE D: Oh, sir, it’s only a tiny, little, thin one.

-Monty Python

Dearest ample followers, I pray this belated Christmas blog finds you comfortably full and content this December. As per usual this past week couldn’t have shot by any quicker if it had tried! The festive lead up to the 25th has come and gone and has left a fair few turkey carcases along the way. However, fear not! There is much more to be done and to be enjoyed. Firstly, I have a few recipes from 19th December when I had my beloved drinking gang over (and a few extras!) which could come in handy for a New Year’s party or even a little soirée for the sake of seeing friends and family. Secondly, I plan on trialling a few cocktail recipes this week so we can all tick into the 2014 with ease. I do warn those readers who wish to go on a ‘super healthy’ detox that the following text does not support these wishes in neither mind, nor body so I suggest you stop here, have a lemon and hot water and lower the laptop screen….

detox

Detox juice? I’d rather not.

va

Carol Vorderman’s detox for life? Never.

As a waitress at present, we are instructed to give party guests a drink almost instantly upon their arrival. It makes them feel welcome, gives them something to ponder over and acts as a social lubricant if their well, a little dry in the conversation department! No matter if you’re on a budget or not, a decent cocktail can be fabricated out of almost anything! For my dinner party I used elderflower cordial and cava. Using the elderflower as I would any syrup, I poured a small amount in the bottom of a champagne glass and topped with a good dose of cava. For presentation’s sake, I threw in a raspberry which sits on the surface just so. This drink is quick, easy and looks quite delicate. I recommend that to save you time, you nominate a party guest to be in charge of dishing out further liquid when your back is turned and your eyes firmly on the stove.

DRINKS

As much as we all enjoy a canapé, I decided against them this time round. I find I often run around like a headless chicken beforehand (more like a stuffed bird now), and I was concerned about the juiciness of my ham. I sound utterly pathetic don’t I?! Fancy crisps, nuts and fresh French bread with oils and balsamic work just as well instead of smoked salmon on blinis etc so you can spend more time on your main. For our main course I cooked Nigella’s infamous Coca cola (not COKE!) Christmas Ham, dauphinoise potatoes and green beans with almonds. I have heard for years that this ham is an absolute MUST and quite frankly, I agree. The ham simply sits in a vat of coca cola for three ½ hours with a sliced onion and is then glazed with black treacle, mustard powder, mascavado sugar and pierced with cloves et voilà! It was moist, rich in colour and most importantly rich in flavour. Potato wise, I believe that the Nigel Slater recipe below is the best ever. The garlic is merely rubbed against the baking tray to give a hue of flavour and it is just perfect. Before I forget, I had never heard of the cooking term ‘scalding’ before. All it means (in this case), is heat the cream to almost boiling point before pouring over the sliced potatoes. Lastly, the beans! I actually forgot my almonds when I did the meal however, it’s very simple to do. Boil the green beans to al dente and drizzle with a little oil, and season. Toss in a few broken up almonds, a rolling pin and a plastic food bag work well here and serve altogether on a HOT PLATE. Hot plates keep the food warmer for longer. No sauce is needed with this dish as the ham is just perfect.

HAM CUT

POT

Finally, the dessert aka Emily’s favourite part of the meal. Everyone always has more time to appreciate the look of a sweet I find. It always feels like a mini firework display with all the ooooohhhs and ahhhhhhs that can be heard. For the dinner party, I made two desserts; chocolate mousse and mini almond cakes. The mousse was a classic Raymond Blanc recipe and does not use any cream what so ever, just lots of egg whites! This recipe is almost fool proof and delicious. The little cakes I have written about the recipe on my blog before. It was the Nigella Almond cake, divided into small cases and covered with homemade chocolate frosting and adorable little hearts. Again, this is a must do for little treats.

MOUSE

MOUSE WARS

DESSERT

Having relived that dinner party I feel quite full again. I better stop here and stretch my legs! I will be back just after NYE with cocktails a plenty, I promise. Thank you to the wonderful Grace for all her lovely photos and oh, Father Christmas for my excellent new stamp!

stamp

Love to all,

E. Wells

An amusement of the mouth

aga

“Hey, Joe, what happened?”

“Oh, that Jim Williams went and shot somebody. Canapé?”

- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Seasons’ greetings ample darlings! I hope this blog finds you all festive and well. As promised, this latest edition to the ample servings blog collection, samples a few canapé favourites in order to make sure you pick the right little nibbles for your Christmas party this year. Believe me when I say it was an absolute pleasure to act as a culinary Sherlock Holmes and sift through various recipes, the good, the bad and some just plain silly! The three recipes that I have chosen for today will hopefully be to your liking however, fret not if you detest the idea of fruit and cheese (food sacrilege!) because I have a few more coming your way next week. I have noticed that many canapés involve cheese so, vegans may want to look away!

strawberry

The Good.

bad taste

The bad. Found at a wake.

bad

The Silly. Who would want to eat these? Looks like a Bush Tucker Trial!

I can’t quite remember where I heard this but a canapé is supposed to be devoured in one bite. The idea is that a guest should be able to hold good conversation and a glass of something bubbly (could be seen as the same thing) and yet, still be able to pop a tasty morsel into ones mouth. As previously mentioned, a cocktail sausage is simply delightful. Nigella does an excellent sausage on a stick (why does her name always follow with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink comment!?) of which you can find in her Christmas cookbook. An excellent read if I do say so myself!

me with stick

One bite. Otherwise you look like this.

nigellaaa

Goose fat potatoes all the way!

Cocktail sausages aside, the following recipes are just as delicious and warming. Do note that all these canapés must be served hot from the oven! Figs are a fantastic fruit and made just that little bit better with a goats cheese filling, a parma ham jacket and a sprinkling of pine nuts and honey. Stuffed dates with manchago cheese, wrapped in bacon and brushed with a little maple syrup are perfect to eat in number and on a stick. Finally, a maple glazed camembert stuffed with a little rosemary and garlic served with homemade soda bread for dipping. This is ‘what I like to call’ cheese heaven. Unfasten your belts friends; it’s easier this way….

fig main

Stuffed Figs:

Two figs

Two pieces of parma ham

Tbsp. of pine nuts

Two tbsp. of honey

Two tsp. of goats’ cheese

This recipe is the easiest thing in the world to make. Cut off the stalk of the fig and cut a cross shape on the top, no more than half way down the fruit. Using your finger, push the bottom of the fig together so that the cuts you made sort of ‘open’. Place a tsp of cheese into each fig maybe a little more if you just LOVE goats’ cheese. Drizzle in a tbsp of honey and wrap around a piece of ham. Use a cocktail stick to keep the ham in place, place the figs on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Toast the pine nuts in a pan and sprinkle on top of the figs. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and 180ºC and serve immediately.

wrap fig

done fig

wrap date

A Christmas Date:

Ten stoned dates (a Christmas joke hoho)

Maple syrup

Small block of manchego cheese

Five rashers of bacon or serrano ham

Once again this is terribly simple. Cut a portion of cheese that is able to fit into the date with ease and wrap up with half a slice of bacon. Season with salt and pepper, brush with a little maple syrup and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 180ºC. Serve with cocktail stick and a cheeky smile.

cooked figs and dates

cam cheese

Glazed Camembert

One camembert

Maple syrup

A few sprigs of rosemary

One garlic clove

Homemade bread (see recipe link below)

Take the wrapper off the cheese but keep it in its wooden container and make very small incisions all over the surface. They should be no more than half way down. Into your incisions stuff tiny pieces of chopped garlic and bit of rosemary. Brush with a generous helping of maple syrup and pop in the oven at 180ºC for ten minutes of so. You want the surface to darken and the cheese to be wobbly and melting. Serve on a pretty board or plate with warm pieces of fresh bread.

cooked am

It’s quite nice with chorizo too.

I am slightly concerned that all I have offered you this week is savoury so, before I scamper off in search of further recipes I want to leave you with my gingerbread house recipe. The decoration side to this activity is well worth doing with little ones however, the construction side can be incredibly frustrating at times therefore, it should be left to the bigger ones. I once made a gingerbread house with my brother Henry when he was very small and when I wasn’t looking he ate part of the roof. Needless to say, the construction was a little trying! In the words of my stepfather, my finished version looked like a nuclear reaction had taken place. Unfortunately, I had to agree but hey, you can always say the kids did it. Laugh away at my decoration but respect my gingerbread.

golden syrup
gingerbread house

rolling pin

me and rolling

cut

great shot

makin my house

construction

gingebread done

cute

Far to go on the decoration front but I’m proud nonetheless!

Thank you Grace for all the wonderful pictures and thank you to all my lovely followers for reading my blog.

E. Wells X