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

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A Stuffed Bird

FINISHED MOUSE

MAÎTRE D: And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.

MR. CREOSOTE: Nah.

MAÎTRE D: Oh, sir, it’s only a tiny, little, thin one.

-Monty Python

Dearest ample followers, I pray this belated Christmas blog finds you comfortably full and content this December. As per usual this past week couldn’t have shot by any quicker if it had tried! The festive lead up to the 25th has come and gone and has left a fair few turkey carcases along the way. However, fear not! There is much more to be done and to be enjoyed. Firstly, I have a few recipes from 19th December when I had my beloved drinking gang over (and a few extras!) which could come in handy for a New Year’s party or even a little soirée for the sake of seeing friends and family. Secondly, I plan on trialling a few cocktail recipes this week so we can all tick into the 2014 with ease. I do warn those readers who wish to go on a ‘super healthy’ detox that the following text does not support these wishes in neither mind, nor body so I suggest you stop here, have a lemon and hot water and lower the laptop screen….

detox

Detox juice? I’d rather not.

va

Carol Vorderman’s detox for life? Never.

As a waitress at present, we are instructed to give party guests a drink almost instantly upon their arrival. It makes them feel welcome, gives them something to ponder over and acts as a social lubricant if their well, a little dry in the conversation department! No matter if you’re on a budget or not, a decent cocktail can be fabricated out of almost anything! For my dinner party I used elderflower cordial and cava. Using the elderflower as I would any syrup, I poured a small amount in the bottom of a champagne glass and topped with a good dose of cava. For presentation’s sake, I threw in a raspberry which sits on the surface just so. This drink is quick, easy and looks quite delicate. I recommend that to save you time, you nominate a party guest to be in charge of dishing out further liquid when your back is turned and your eyes firmly on the stove.

DRINKS

As much as we all enjoy a canapé, I decided against them this time round. I find I often run around like a headless chicken beforehand (more like a stuffed bird now), and I was concerned about the juiciness of my ham. I sound utterly pathetic don’t I?! Fancy crisps, nuts and fresh French bread with oils and balsamic work just as well instead of smoked salmon on blinis etc so you can spend more time on your main. For our main course I cooked Nigella’s infamous Coca cola (not COKE!) Christmas Ham, dauphinoise potatoes and green beans with almonds. I have heard for years that this ham is an absolute MUST and quite frankly, I agree. The ham simply sits in a vat of coca cola for three ½ hours with a sliced onion and is then glazed with black treacle, mustard powder, mascavado sugar and pierced with cloves et voilà! It was moist, rich in colour and most importantly rich in flavour. Potato wise, I believe that the Nigel Slater recipe below is the best ever. The garlic is merely rubbed against the baking tray to give a hue of flavour and it is just perfect. Before I forget, I had never heard of the cooking term ‘scalding’ before. All it means (in this case), is heat the cream to almost boiling point before pouring over the sliced potatoes. Lastly, the beans! I actually forgot my almonds when I did the meal however, it’s very simple to do. Boil the green beans to al dente and drizzle with a little oil, and season. Toss in a few broken up almonds, a rolling pin and a plastic food bag work well here and serve altogether on a HOT PLATE. Hot plates keep the food warmer for longer. No sauce is needed with this dish as the ham is just perfect.

HAM CUT

POT

Finally, the dessert aka Emily’s favourite part of the meal. Everyone always has more time to appreciate the look of a sweet I find. It always feels like a mini firework display with all the ooooohhhs and ahhhhhhs that can be heard. For the dinner party, I made two desserts; chocolate mousse and mini almond cakes. The mousse was a classic Raymond Blanc recipe and does not use any cream what so ever, just lots of egg whites! This recipe is almost fool proof and delicious. The little cakes I have written about the recipe on my blog before. It was the Nigella Almond cake, divided into small cases and covered with homemade chocolate frosting and adorable little hearts. Again, this is a must do for little treats.

MOUSE

MOUSE WARS

DESSERT

Having relived that dinner party I feel quite full again. I better stop here and stretch my legs! I will be back just after NYE with cocktails a plenty, I promise. Thank you to the wonderful Grace for all her lovely photos and oh, Father Christmas for my excellent new stamp!

stamp

Love to all,

E. Wells