‘Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.’
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!
Fruit and Vegetables;
- Globe Artichokes
- Broad Beans
Meat and Fish;
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’.
Mincing organic beef. Look at that fantastic colour!
Lamb bottoms….aka the rump!
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.
Intestines and sausage meat. It’s hard not to grimace but it’s how they’re made!
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/
Asian inspired salad with a sesame dressing. I tried it and it was heavenly!
Wild rice and celery lunch platter!
Roasted Cauliflower Salad inspired by Angie Steele and BBC Good Food
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
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1½ tbsp honey
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.
The HandleBards’ Rocky Road inspired by Angie Steele & Nigella Lawson
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
2 teaspoons icing sugar (for dusting)
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.
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/
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
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.
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!
8oz digestive biscuits
2oz caster sugar
2tbsp drinking chocolate
8oz plain chocolate
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.
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?
Love E. Wells Xx