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.

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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!

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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

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Filthy, healthy living

lemond

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

-Orson Welles

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

Video Kitchen Aid

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

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

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit & Vegetables;

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

Fish & Meat;

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

[*coming into season]

Culinary Query

 Felix, Putney

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

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

This Weeks’ Recipes

Super Healthy Salmon Fish cakes

fishcakes

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

Ingredients:

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

2 tbsp Thai red curry paste

thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, grated

1 tsp soy sauce

1 bunch coriander, half chopped, half leaves picked

1 tsp vegetable oil

lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

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

Bean and Chorizo Broth

broth

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

Ingredients:

1 white onion

5” of chorizo, sliced

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

400g of ready to eat haricot beans

250ml beef stock

A glug of red wine

A few heads of parsley

Salt and pepper, oil for frying

Method:

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

Cauliflower based pizza

cauliflower pizza

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

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower

4 tbsp ground almonds

2 eggs

Method:

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

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

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

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

bread

https://www.facebook.com/lazaroartisanbakery

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

merli

Until next week little chickens!

Love,

E. Wells xX

Spinning Saucepans on Sticks

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

-William Shakespeare

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

Video Kitchen Aid

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

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

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit and Vegetables;

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

Meat and Fish;

  • Lamb
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Crab

Culinary Query

Alex, Herne Hill

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

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

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

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Fillet Steak

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Mincing organic beef. Look at that fantastic colour!

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Lamb bottoms….aka the rump!

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Roberto making chipolatas!

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

 

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

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

This Weeks’ Recipes

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

 

angie

Chef Angie.

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

 

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Wild rice and celery lunch platter!

Roasted Cauliflower Salad inspired by Angie Steele and BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower, broken into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp raisins

small bunch dill, snipped

3 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds

50g baby spinach

Salt and pepper

Dressing:

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

1½ tbsp honey

Method:

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

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

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

Ingredients:

125 grams soft butter

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

3 tablespoons golden syrup

200 grams rich tea biscuits

100 grams mini marshmallows

30g of dried cranberries

25g pistachios

2 teaspoons icing sugar (for dusting)

Method:

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

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

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

 

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

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Moroccan Kebabs

Ingredients:

5 chicken fillets (1 per person)

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp light olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ tsp each of ground cinnamon, coriander and cumin

Juice of one lemon

½ tsp of harissa

Method:

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

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Primary School Tiffin

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

Ingredients:

8oz digestive biscuits

4oz margarine

2oz caster sugar

2tbsp drinking chocolate

1 egg

8oz plain chocolate

Method:

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

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

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Love E. Wells Xx

Two Cooks Make An Excellent Broth

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

-Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad

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

Technique of the Week

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

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

Seemingly Seasonal

Fruit and Vegetables:

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

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Sardines
  • Lamb
  • Crab

Culinary Query

Ness, Borough

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

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

This Week’s Recipes:

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Moules Marinieres

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

(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

1 chopped shallot

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

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

1 kg mussels

1 carrot cut into juliennes

1 leek cut into juliennes

100ml white wine or cider

100ml double cream

Tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

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

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

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

 

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Halibut with a Pesto Crust

1 fish steak per person

 

Pesto:

Small clove garlic

One bunch of basil, leaves only

40-50g parmesan freshly grated or chopped

Good glug of olive oil

Pepper

50g pinenuts

A little green chili (optional)

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

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

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

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Vanilla Fudge

 Ingredients:

500g Granulated Sugar

80g Butter

150ml Milk

25ml Cream

175ml Evaporated Milk

Vanilla Essence

Method:

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

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

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

 

 

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Tarte Tatin with Sweet Pastry

 Sweet Pastry:

100g Cold butter, cut up into pieces

200g Flour

40g Sugar

1 Egg

Splash of milk

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

 

For Tarte Tatin

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

100g Butter

100g Sugar

1 Quantity of sweet pastry

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

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

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

E. Wells Xx

The Darling Taste Buds in May

trifles

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

-Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows

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

Technique of the Week

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

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

Seemingly Seasonal

Vegetables:

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

 

Meat and Fish:

  • Crab
  • Sardines
  • Lamb

 

Fruit:

  • Elderflower
  • Goosebury
  • Nectarines

 

Culinary Query

Callum Brodie, Streatham

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

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

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

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

This Weeks’ Recipes

Tomato and Red Onion Focaccia

focaccia

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

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

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

chocolate bread

Chocolate Bread

french wreith

A current wreath

cin bread

Cinnamon Loaf

 

Toad in the Hole

Sausages

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

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

Spring Trifle

trifles again

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

Ingredients:

For the sponge

100g Caster sugar

100g Self-raising Flour

2 Eggs

100g Unsalted Butter

Tsp Vanilla Essence

Fruit layer

100g Raspberries

100g Sliced and hulled strawberries

50g Blueberries

Custard

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

Cream Layer

50ml Double Cream

50ml Mascapone

20g Flaked Almonds

Method:

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

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

venison

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

E. Wells Xx

As Tasty as a Spring Lamb

eggs

 

‘Don’t touch my eggs or my chocolate’

-Anon

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

Technique of the Week

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

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

Seemingly Seasonal

Vegetables:

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

 

Meat and Fish:

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

Fruit:

  • Bananas
  • Rhubarb
  • Kiwi fruit

Culinary Query:

Frankie Miller, Leeds

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

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

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

This Weeks’ Recipes

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

Mince tart

Spiced Lamb Tart

Ingredients:

375g ready-rolled puff pastry

1 tbsp semolina or polenta

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

500g lean lamb mince

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

2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 chillies, 1 deseeded and finely chopped, 1 sliced

25g pine nuts, toasted

200ml chicken stock, hot

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

Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Handful of pomegranate seeds

 

Method:

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

feta and spinach

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

steak

Root Vegetables Chips with Ground Almonds

 Ingredients:

25 g ground almonds

2 tbsp sunflower oil

salt and pepper

1 sweet potato cut into strips

½ courgette cut thick batons

Method:

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

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

blueberry mix

Blueberry and Lemon Cake

Ingredients:

100g self-raising flour

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

Tsp vanilla essence

Two handfuls of blueberries

Rind of one lemon

Method:

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

sponge in tin

cake on stand

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

Lots of love,

E. Wells X

No Longer a Fool in Food

photo 3 (3)

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

Technique of the Week

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

Enjoy the music!

Seemingly Seasonal

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

Vegetables:

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

 

Fruit:

  • Rhubarb
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Pomegranate

 

Culinary Query

From Christopher, Forest Hill

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

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

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

 

This Weeks’ Recipes

Ottolenghi’s Eight Hour Pulled Pork

photo 1 (3)

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

Pork Ingredients:

2.5kg pork shoulder, bone in

200ml cider vinegar

80g dark brown sugar

1 tbsp Szechuan pepper

5 cinnamon sticks

1 tbsp red chilli flakes

2¼ tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tomato paste

Salt

Salad Ingredients:

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

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

20g parsley, picked and roughly chopped

1 tbsp red-wine vinegar

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp olive oil

90g rocket

 

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

 

Unknown

Ottolenghi’s Green Bean, Mangetout and Hazelnut Salad

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

Ingredients:

400g green beans, stalks trimmed

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

70g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 orange, zested and juiced

20g chives, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp olive oil

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

salt and pepper

Method:

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

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

Simon Rimmer’s Passion Fruit Tart

photo 2 (3)

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

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

An Announcement

il_340x270.337208759

Bake & Bike Service Available Now!

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

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

Moist Marzipan Cake

(Serves 8)

-£9.00

Clementine Cake

(Serves 8)

-£9.50

That’s all for this week folks!

Until next time,

E. Wells Xx

Delivering on Taste and on Time

chilli

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

-Michel Le Roux Jr

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

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

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

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

yep

This kind of thing

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

tarts

Savoury Sunday Tarts

(serves 3)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of premade puff pastry

Jar of basil pesto

Couple of handfuls of tomatoes, sliced in half

50g of goats cheese

Fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

Method:

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

Tom tart

(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of premade puff pastry

Glug of oil

2 red onions

Tbsp. brown sugar

Balsamic or sherry vinegar

Pack of feta cheese

10 black olives

Rosemary sprigs

Salt and pepper

Method:

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

feta

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

wontons

Pork and Mushroom Wontons

(Serves 5-6)

Spoonful of dried black mushrooms

3-4 normal mushrooms

2 leaves of bok choy

1 spring onion

1 tsp grated ginger

200g pork mince

1tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp cornflour

1tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

A cheeky chilli

Plenty of peanut oil

Wonton wrappers

Water in a little dish

Method:

wonton recipe

lots of wontons

Wonton prep! They look like their wearing tuxes!

done

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

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

chocolate tart

Dark Chocolate and Malt Tart

Ingredients:

(Tart pastry)

3 large egg yolks

1/2 vanilla pod

250g of plain flour

50g of icing sugar

150g of butter

(Chocolate and malt filling)

500ml of double cream

1 tbsp of Horlicks

2 large eggs

400g of dark chocolate

  • For the method click the link here:

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

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

E. Wells Xx

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!

photo 4

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

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