Chapter One: Going back to basics

mixture

“Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first”

– Josh Billings, Humourist

Well, hello delightful ample followers! What a joyous occasion it is to meet one and other a year since my first ever blog post. I’m not sure I can believe it myself but by God, it’s been an entire twelve months since my first article on ‘fruit tarts and new starts’ and ample servings is still going strong! Once more, this blog is about to go through a turn for the better, what with my culinary training fast approaching. I must admit that I’m a little nervous to start my new chapter but I’d foolish not to be! It’s going to be a whirlwind adventure and I can’t wait to begin. Needless to say, you wonderful people will get to treat yourselves, not to mention amuse yourselves, with an array of food related delights and culinary disasters! Blood, sweat and perfectly salted tears pave the way to my desired success. Wish me luck, I’m going in (to a professional kitchen!)

 Kitchen Aid Video:

Homemade mayo with Jamie Oliver in 3 minutes! Do it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypQuZX5MVsI

Seemingly Seasonal:

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Redcurrants
  • Nectarines
  • Damsons
  • Quinces
  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Apricots
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkins
  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Courgette
  • Marrow
  • Chicory
  • Cobnut
  • Fennel
  • French Beans
  • Globe Artichoke
  • Cabbage

Meat & Fish:

  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Goose
  • Halibut
  • Whiting
  • Salmon
  • Mussels
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters

Culinary Query

Libby, Balham

Please could you suggest some tasty vegan meals that I can cook at home for friends?

Amongst a meat-loving, dairy guzzling, food crazed crowd the word ‘vegan’ often warrants a raise of the eyebrows and a great heave of disgust. I find this response a little unfair because truly, vegans can eat a great deal of food and your meals can still be full of flavour. The trick is to just ‘think vegan’ not goose, no….definitely not goose!

Here are a few suggestions that I thought of myself;

Brunch: Toasted soda bread with crushed avocado, salt and lemon juice. This is wonderfully tasty and quick as you like to make. Toast your slices of bread (under the grill is best!) and cut open your avocado. Once the toast is done, directly squash the avocado onto it with a fork. One avocado usually does three pieces of toast. Season with plenty of salt, a little pepper and a good squeeze of lemon!

Light-lunch: Portobello mushrooms stuffed with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and homemade basil pesto. Have fun with the pesto and replace your pine nuts with toasted walnuts or pistachios for a different flavour! See my previous post of homemade pesto for a recipe. Simply roast your vegetables in the oven along with the herbs (add the mushroom stalks but not the mushrooms themselves!), then gently mix in a little tomato puree and handful of breadcrumbs before seasoning. Sear your portobello mushrooms in a pan on both sides and then place your vegetable mix on the bottom of each mushroom. Pop them in the oven for a further 5-10 mins until your mushroom is cooked through and serve with some rocket salad and a generous serving of homemade pesto on top of your mushrooms.

Aperitif: Homemade hummus by Yotam Ottolenghi is your best option here. It’s smooth, silky and totally vegan! Why not add some caramelised onions to the mixture for a sweet finish? Serve with pitta breads and wine! http://food52.com/recipes/22888-yotam-ottolenghi-sami-tamimi-s-basic-hummus

Dinner: Vegetable Thai curry is ideal for a flavoursome vegan feast. If you have time, make your own curry paste but one from the supermarket does the job just as nicely. Coconut milk is your main liquid as well as vegetable stock and obviously fine to use. I suggest that you use nice vegetables such as aubergines, squash and parsnips to keep it both interesting and filling. Don’t be afraid to use chilli, Thai basil (sweet flavour) and thai vegetables like water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Pak choi is nice too! An example to follow: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/420641/veggie-thai-red-curry

This Weeks’ Recipes:

Grilled Halloumi with chilli

Halloumi

A very simple and easy dish which acts as a great accompaniment to any Mediterranean meal.

Ingredients:

250g halloumi cut into rectangles

Half a red chilli

Lemon

Olive oil

Method:

Place the halloumi onto a hot grill. Turn the pieces over when they get a nice colour on the bottom side this could take between 2-4 minutes. Once cooked and marked on both sides place them on a serving place. Finely chop your red chilli and sprinkle onto your halloumi, season with a little pepper and a good squeeze of lemon. Finish with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

Lamb Stuffed Aubergines

bergg

This is an Ottolenghi recipe and is utterly delicious. The one thing I would suggest is to not to stuff your aubergine until the last half hour of the aubergine cooking. My mince became a tad overcooked after an hour and a half of baking! Serve with some salad leaves of eat on its own.

Ingredients:

4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

One and a half tablespoons sweet paprika

One and a half tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 medium onions (340g in total), finely chopped

500g minced lamb

50g pine nuts

20g flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons tomato purée

3 teaspoons caster sugar

150ml water

One and a half tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

4 cinnamon sticks

Salt and black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the aubergines are cooking, you can start making the stuffing by heating the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/175C fan/gas mark 5 and a half. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergine roasting tin. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

Choux Pastry

eclairs

Last week we saw contestants on the Great British Bake Off making an array of eclairs for the show stopper challenge. This encouraged me to seek some choux pastry training from a professional pastry chef, Alice Peel. Although Alice prefers bread over pastry, she didn’t mind teaching me how to make a decent choux pastry (of which she is most skilled at!) and turning it into a sea of chocolate eclairs and choux buns. This recipe is from BBC Food but is more or less how we did our pastries on Monday!

Ingredients:

100g/3½oz unsalted butter

pinch salt

150g/5½oz plain flour

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

Method:

For the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Gently heat 150ml/5½fl oz water, the butter and salt in a medium saucepan until melted, then bring to the boil.

Sift the flour into a bowl then tip it into the pan of boiling butter and water. Remove from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, very quickly beat the mixture until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and continue to beat the mixture until you have a smooth paste. Return the dough to the bowl and add the beaten eggs gradually, until the mixture has a smooth dropping consistency (the dough should hold onto the spoon but drop off when lightly tapped on the edge of the bowl). Spoon the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle.

Line two baking trays with non-stick silicone parchment and mark six 13cm/5in lines on each piece of parchment, leaving as much room as possible between each line. Spray the parchment with water and pipe identical tubes of dough on the lines. Bake for 20 minutes, or until well risen and golden-brown.

choc

Behold Alice’s finished eclairs!

See you all next week for more foodie fun! I’ll leave you with a picture of my new chef shoes….I keep telling myself they’re not crocs! In fact, I think they’re worse!

shoe

Please note that all my opinions and comments on Ample Servings are my own and are not of the culinary school I attend currently.

Love E. Wells

Advertisements

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