Two Cooks Make An Excellent Broth

IMG_4355

“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:

IMG_4360

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/

 

IMG_4361

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.

 IMG_4370

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.

 

 

 IMG_4350

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.

IMG_4383

[*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

Advertisements

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