Spinning Saucepans on Sticks

photo 2 (8)

‘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

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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

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.

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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-

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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

Plenty o’ food

CR

“That’s a nice walnut and date cake with buttercream filling and icing on the top – I’ll have that!”

-Burglar Bill

I can’t believe I’m saying this but in less than one month, it’s going to be Christmas day! Gee whizz that’s an exciting thought. For me, Christmas is my most treasured time of the year. It’s a wonderful occasion to spend time with family and friends, eat and drink a plenty and watch a good Poirot on television. Call me bias but personally, I believe that full tummies reap cheer and merriment in abundance and so, in the next few blogs I will offer a range of Christmassy delights, some more calorific than others!

This week saw the 23rd birthday of a very close girlfriend of mine and in order to celebrate I decided to make Olivia, her favourite dessert, a gloriously, glutinous banoffee pie! Having scoured the internet high and low, I came across a fairly simple recipe on BBC Food and set about gathering the ingredients. This dessert is a real treat and should be eaten in moderation if you wish to fit into your slim fit jeans the next day! How could someone reject double cream, caramel, biscuits, grated chocolate and banana all at once!? Now, I am conscious that a fair few friends of mine have a serious aversion towards bananas in any capacity however, this phobia could be remedied by simply changing the fruit. No one should go without some form of banoffee so, why not exchange bananas for softened apple, juicy slices of pear or even some sweet strawberries….yum yum yum.

banof

For my sweet Libador (Olivia’s nickname, don’t ask!), I decided to make my little banoffee pies into fun shapes. This is very easily done using biscuit cutters and makes them look very sweet. I’m feeling very girly right now, can you tell!? I thoroughly recommend this recipe to anyone who fancies treating themselves or fellow friends. Yes, the sugar content of the caramel could be seen as a little sickly on its own and yet, the double cream cuts through it perfectly. Ideally, this dessert should be consumed while you’re wrapped up in a blanket watching a good thriller.

Recently, Yotam Ottolenghi has had a series called ‘Mediterranean Island Feast’ on channel four where he visits exciting islands such as Corsica, Crete and Sardinia, producing some wonderful food. Not only is he an exquisite chef with a fantastic eye for food combinations (and ex-cordon bleu!) but he is extremely amusing to watch. While sporting a pink linen shirt on the island of Corsica, claiming that it fitted into the ‘chi chi’ nature of the place, he drops a three month old cheese from a great height during the salting process, and royally messes up making doughnuts on a stand at the farmers market. Yotam’s culinary curiosity is one of note not to mention hilarious when he gets something wrong. It just goes to show, no matter how experienced you are in the kitchen, there is always something more to learn! In light of this, I think it’s important to mention to not give yourself such as hard time when you’re cooking and something doesn’t work, it happens to everyone. I burnt my second batch of croissants last week. Gosh, I feel like I’m in culinary confession….

Having watched Yotam lark about on the screen, I had a look in his cookbook Plenty in order to dig out a lovely recipe for stuffed onions. A vegetarian friend of mine made these little gems for me at university, and they were delicious. Yotam’s vegetarian dishes are quite simply exquisite and his books would make an ideal Christmas gift for cooking enthusiasts. I know the photo quality isn’t great, but Grace has been very busy this week resting her twisted ankle. She claims she wasn’t drunk when the incident occurred but we shall judge her harshly all the same! Try serving the stuffed onions with a green salad and a honey and mustard dressing.

stuffed

Stuffed Onions

500ml vegetable stock
350ml white wine
4 large onions
3 small tomatoes
120g fresh white breadcrumbs
90g feta, crumbled
80g parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp salt and ground black pepper
Butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Have ready a small, buttered oven-proof dish. Put the stock and white wine into a medium-sized saucepan, bring up to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, trim half a centimetre off the top and bottom of the onions, then cut them in half lengthways. Remove the skin and carefully take out most of the insides, keeping only two or three layers of the outer skin of each onion intact (set aside the insides for other uses). Carefully separate the outer layers from each other and place, a few at a time, in the simmering stock. Cook for three to four minutes, until just tender, then drain well and leave to cool slightly. Repeat until all the onion has been blanched.

To make the stuffing, use a coarse cheese grater to grate the tomatoes into a large bowl (you will be left with most of the skin in your hand; discard it). Add breadcrumbs, feta, parsley, oil, garlic, spring onion, salt and pepper. Fill each onion skin with stuffing. Pull the sides together so that you end up with a fat cigar shape. Place seam-side down in the buttered dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until soft and lightly coloured, with the stuffing bubbling. Serve warm with a drizzle of oil.

Lastly, we come to our final dish of the day. This recipe is a winter warmer and created by yours truly. I won’t deny it, I have yet been able to make this stew look ‘pretty’ on a plate but my goodness, it tastes good and hits that wintry spot. I call this my French peasant stew because it’s the kind of one pot meal that incorporates all the leftover meat and vegetables in your fridge. Below is the recipe I put together, but treat it as a guideline and feel free to add your own ideas!

stew

Peasant Stew

500-600g Leftover pork from a roast

Oil

1 Onion

2 Shallots

2 Cloves of garlic

12 Cherry tomatoes

¼ Pack of green beans

3 Carrots

5 Rashers of bacon

500g Boiled, new potatoes

1 Chicken stock cube

200ml-300ml Hot water

½ Glass of white wine

Salt and pepper

A good sprinkling of thyme

 Slice the onions and shallots lengthways and throw into a big pot with a glug of oil. Once they are translucent, add the garlic, carrots (chopped very small) and the potatoes (also cut up) and stir for a few minutes. Using a pair of scissors, cut the bacon into small pieces and throw into the pan with the green beans, cooked meat and the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and thyme. After five minutes, crumble the stock cube over the pot and pour in the hot water. Add the wine here. Stir, check for seasoning and let it simmer with the lid on for half an hour. Serve with a hunk of bread and a glass of white wine.

That’s all for this week lovelies. Do come back next week for Christmas treats galore! It’s going to be…..GOOD.

Love,

E. Wells

Nothing says “a new start” quite like a fruit tart!

Zesty Lemon Tart

“How would this do you, Bingo?” I said at length. “A few plovers’ eggs to weigh in with, a cup of soup, a touch of cold salmon, some cold curry, and a splash of gooseberry tart and cream with a bite of cheese to finish?”.
I don’t know that I had expected the man  actually to scream with delight, though I had picked the items from my knowledge of his pet dishes, but I had expected him to say something. I looked up, and found that his attention was elsewhere. He was gazing at the waitress with the look of a dog that’s just remembered where its bone was buried. ”

-P.G. Wodehouse

At the risk of appearing pretentious (and a tad moronic due to a lack of introduction to my NEW blog), P.G. Wodehouse is in my opinion one of the wittiest authors of all time. If you haven’t read any, I recommend ‘Summer Lightning’ to start you off but quite frankly, any of them should do the trick!

Now, first things second…. Thank you and welcome to my first ever blogging page, ‘ample servings’. This is a place in which I discuss food, food and oh, more food! If you haven’t noticed it yet, I adore everything food related. From researching recipes, cooking for friends of which I must mention the infamous ‘Drinking Gang’, baking a Tardis shaped cake just for kicks to finally, starting my Grand Diplome at the Cordon Bleu next September (hopefully), it is fair to say I am a little obsessed. As of late, I’ve made a bit of a career change from studying languages at University to learning to become a professional chef at cookery school in London. Needless to say, mother was horrified! Ho, ho, ho…Undoubtedly there will be a few hilarious stories to post a bit later on such as; slipping over a sly bit of vegetable peel on the kitchen floor or squashing my perfectly formed Venus nipples. So, if you too are a foodie please feel free to comment, post or just peruse my page when ever you so wish. I will steadily post various recipes, pictures, crafty ideas and perhaps a joke or two a couple of times a month. Well, that is the plan at least!

Before I forget, the tarts! The lemon tart is a Mary Berry recipe on BBC Food and the beautiful raspberry and almond tart is from ‘My Little Paris Kitchen’ by the glorious Rachel Khoo. I promise that the next blog will be far more food weighted, I just wanted to “set the scene” first.

Until next time! Raspberry and Almond Tart

Lots of love,

E. Wells  XXX

Click on the links below for the recipes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarte_au_citron_94480

http://www.rachelkhoo.com/travel/chez-rachel-launches-in-holland