Monday, 27 July 2015

Meeting Raymond Blanc

All this time and no blog posts. So angry with myself as I've had so much to say during this time, from divine Caribbean jerk pork belly on the beach to food tastings during wedding planning, there would have been so much tasty food to talk about.

However, there is no time like the present and after getting married and buying a house over the last couple of months I will now have more time to not only cook delicious dinners but also blog about them... And at least it'll get me out of doing the DIY!

So I'll start off with a short post about a delicious lunch I had last week with a very exciting visitor.

For anyone who hasn't made it to one of Raymond Blanc's Brasserie Blanc restaurants I would most definitely recommend it. Last Thursday I went to the Oxford branch, where I ummed and ahhed  over a deliciously tempting menu featuring starters of 'Rainbow Beetroot Salad' and 'Escargots' and mains including 'Seabream a la Bouillabaisse' and 'Boeuf Bourguignon'.

I opted for the  Scottish Queen Scallops with tomato butter to start. Superbly cooked, sweet juicy scallops with a hint of zesty lemon and fresh grassy herbs washed excellently down with a crisp glass if Chenin Blanc. Wonderful.

For main course I was tempted by pandered Atlantic hake fillet served with white wine, clam and samphire broth and new potatoes. The hake was cooked to perfection with a crispy skin and delicate flaky fish, while the broth served as the perfect companyment sigh the salty samphire and juicy clams.

However, the best was yet to come and as we were discussing dessert options a gentlemen with a soft French accent and charming demeanour came by to ask how our meal was. It was none other than Raymond Blanc himself! As I attempted to remain composed he seat down on the banquet seating and we chatted about our meal and weddings at Le Manoir.

The perfect end to a wonderful meal.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Baked cod and chana masala

Another diet day and another low calorie meal, this time baked cod with chana masala (a chickpea curry type thing).

This is such an easy thing to make on a weeknight, only takes a maximum of half an hour to whip up and is under 350 calories.

The ingredients are as follows
  • White fish fillets
  • A small onion - chopped
  • A garlic clove About a thumbs worth of finely chopped ginger
  • A tin of chickpeas
  • A tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 green chilli - chopped
  • Chopped coriander 
To make it...
  1. Fry the ginger, onion and garlic for a couple of minutes
  2. Add the spices and chilli and fry for another minute
  3. Drain the chickpeas and add them along with the tomatoes
  4. Simmer for 15 mins
  5. Meanwhile you can either fry or bake the fish - I baked it so it was healthier.
  6. Place fish into foil parcel and season with salt, pepper, garam masala and chilli
  7. Bake for 10-15 mins
  8. Serve chana masala on plate with fish on top and chopped coriander leaves scattered over it.
Delicious with a naan too. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Healthy fish, chips and mushy peas

I am such a January cliché this year and have decided to do the 5:2.

This therefore means that twice a week I can only have 500 calories a day and have been searching for low calorie dinners that I can jazz up a little bit for my boyf without too much hassle.

As one of my New Year's resolutions was to start my diet and also to start updating my blog more regularly I thought I could tie the two in together nicely and update you all on healthy treats I've been having.

White fish has been a great thing on this diet as it is so low in calories, yet filling, tasty and very versatile.

So I decided to make a healthy fish, chips and mushy peas complete with homemade tartar sauce (although my healthy under 300 calorie version did not include any sauce and instead of being bread crumbed my fish was baked in foil with capers).

To start I pre-heated the oven to around 180 degrees. Peeled and chopped a butternut squash into chip shaped pieces and places in a baking tray with a few squirts of a 1 calorie spray, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and placed in the oven for around 40 mins.

Twenty mins into the cooking time I took the fish (river cobbler) and patted it dry with some kitchen roll before seasoning it on both sides. I prepared three plates, one with plain flour, the second with a beaten egg and the final with breadcrumbs lemon zest and chopped parsley. I coated the fish in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs before placing it in the oven for about 20 mins, turning once during cooking.

While these were both cooking I boiled some frozen peas for five minutes and then mashed them with several teaspoons of natural low fat yoghurt and lemon juice until they had the consistency of mushy peas.

To finish I created a tartar sauce using a tablespoon of mayo, a tablespoon on yoghurt, a chopped gherkin, a spoon of capers and a squeeze of lemon juice.

A thoroughly tasty and pretty healthy substitute for a greasy chippy.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Garlic and rosemary focaccia

I’m a big fan of homemade bread but in the past I have always played it pretty safe with a simple loaf. However earlier this week I decided to push the boat out and make a rosemary and garlic focaccia to go with a chorizo pasta dinner.

To make the focaccia the ingredients I used/recipe I followed was…
·  2 cups (118 ml) olive oil
·  2 garlic cloves, minced
·  1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
·  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
·  1 cup (237 ml) warm water
·  2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
·  1/4 teaspoon honey
·  2 1/2 (350 grams) cups all purpose flour
·  1 teaspoon salt

I first of all combined the oil, rosemary, olives and black pepper into a saucepan and gently warmed it for about five mins and then set aside.
Next I combined the yeast, warm water and honey, mixed that and then left it for five mins until it went slightly foamy. I then added one cup of flour and half of the oil mixture, stirred it a little and then left it for another five mins.
I then added the salt and the rest of the flour, combined it all and then kneaded for about a minute before transferring it to an oiled bowl and left it in a warm place for an hour.
After an hour I transferred the dough to a baking tray, which was lined with a couple of tablespoons of the oil. I prodded it down with my fingers to create dimples and then drizzled the remaining oil over the top of the dough before leaving it for 20 mins to let it rise a little.
Meanwhile I pre-heated the oven to 230 degrees.
After 20 mins I transferred it to the oven to cook for around 15-20 mins and then got it out when slightly golden on top.
A very tasty bread to enjoy hot with dinner, but equally as tasty cold the next day. I shall definitely be making it again but next time I might try it with different flavoured oil, perhaps pesto or sunblushed tomato.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

An Indian delight...

I'm back...

After several years of not posting anything I realised how much I love cooking and I am still talking about food to other people and wanted to start sharing it again. And as at the weekend I made a really delicious meal I decided there was no time like the present.

The boyf is a massive fan of Indian food and after a lazy Saturday afternoon on Northcote Road drinking a selection of Belgium beers I decided that I would cook him a posh Indian feast for dinner without an onion bhaji in sight.

For starter I attempted what I dubbed Cauliflower Cheese three ways.

This consisted of sag paneer, pan fried paneer on cauliflower purée and aloo gobi. The sag paneer was a bit of an error to be honest as I was attempting to make a cheesy spinach filo roll but as I turned the pan on and got the filo out I realised I had totally forgotten to defrost it so I instead cooked the spinach and paneer mixture (fresh spinach, chopped paneer, our homemade butter chicken spice mix and salt and pepper) in a buttered pan for five minutes.

For the paneer and purée I cooked a few florets of cauliflower in a pan of salted water before blitzing them up in the food processor with the addition of some plain yoghurt, some ground fenugreek and cumin plus lots of salt and pepper. The cube of paneer was just seasoned and then fried in butter for a couple of minutes on each side.

The third component included boiling chopped jersey royals and then adding chopped cauliflower before frying chopped onions with the cauliflower and potato and then adding grated ginger, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, a whole chilli, chilli powder, salt and lemon juice. I left it to fry for five mins and then added about eight chopped baby plum tomatoes and a few splashes of water and left it to simmer.

My attempt at being arty...

For mains was an Indian spiced monkfish with ginger and coriander sweet potato cake, wilted spinach and minted yoghurt.

To make the fish I ground up cinnamon, cloves, cumin, corriander and fennugreek and then rolled the monkfish in the mixture and left it to marinade. Five minutes from the end I panfied the monkfish in lots of butter for three minutes, basting it as I went and then popped it into a pre-heated oven for around another three mins.

To make the sweet potato cakes I boiled some sweet potatoes and then mashed them with grated ginger and chopped corriander, then added flour to make a patty which I then fried. I served the monkfish on top of the sweet potato cake with wilted spinach and a minted yoghurt, made my simply whizzing up some fresh mint with the yoghurt.

It doesnt look overly appealing but tasted so good.

For dessert I made a passionfruit and lemon syllabub, which I cheated and used a recipe from the BBC website. The ingredients for this were...
  • * 284 tub whipping cream 
  • * 50g caster sugar 
  •  * 50ml white wine 
  • * zest and juice from ½ lemon 

And according to the BBC you... "Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Stir in the wine, most of the lemon zest and the juice. Spoon into glasses or bowls, sprinkle with the remaining zest and serve with almond thins or berries." I sprinkled it with passionfruit and it was delicious.

A very nice meal indeed. 

Saturday, 8 October 2011


I just had three pancakes.

One with bacon, mushrooms, cheese and tomato and the other two with sugar and lemon (well lime actually).

Oh and just to make it very clear I'm not talking about those horrible stodgy fat American ones, I'm talking the deliciously thin crepe type.

Whilst chowing down on the tasty batteryness I was pondering the pros about pancakes and realised there are many. So the lovely woman that I am I decided to share them with you.

1) They are so damn easy to make, well once the measuring is out of the way (which I usually leave to Mr P's expert eye).

2) No need for any fancy ingredients - the ingredients are just things you would normally just have in the cupboard, milk, eggs and flour, how much simplier could it be. Plus you can swap around ingredients, different types of flour, or add chocolate chips to the batter, etc.

3) They can provide hours of fun - tossing of said item is brilliant fun for all the family.

4) You can basically put anything on them - sweet, savoury, salty, sour. I dont think I've ever had a pancake I didnt like. I am always particularly enamoured by those doused with alcohol and set on fire.

5) Oh and another thing, they taste bloody amazing!

Pancakes are definitely not just for Shrove Tuesday... they're for life.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Fat Duck

I may not have written this blog for months but I felt it was well and truly worth resurrecting to tell you all about Heston's gaff, The Fat Duck.

I decided to treat Mr P to a meal at the restaurant for his 30th Birthday and we went to the restaurant at 12.30 yesterday lunchtime.

For anyone who hadst visited Bray before, it is a quaint little village with a couple of little pubs, and of course a couple of Michelin starred restaurants. The Fat Duck sits discreetly at the side of the high street, it is almost missable and looks a little like someones house.

On stepping inside the door you are thrust right into the restaurant which is cosy and not particularly big, perhaps around 12-15 tables in there. The large amount of staff were hugely cheerful on our arrival, most either asking how we were or greeting us with a huge smile.

We were sat at our table and shortly afterwards a waiter arrived with a trolley of champagne and asked whether we would like to start with a glass. We thought it was rude not to and after deciding not to opt for a glass of champers costing over £100 I settle for a glass of rose champagne and Mr P plumps for a glass of Tattinger - a lovely way to start the meal.

This is swiftly followed by a little amuse bouche: Aerated beetroot with horseradish cream, a slightly crispy shell with a hint of raspberry with a creamy horseradishy inside.

Next came our nitro poached aperitifs. A man arrived with a bowl of liquid nitrogen cooling the fluid down to minus 100 and something. We had a choice of either gin and tonic, campari and soda or vodka and lime sour. I chose the G&T and Mr P chose the campari. Then for each the waiter squirted a ball of mousse type liquid onto a spoon before dropping it into the nitrogen and poaching it for a minute or so. He then told us to each it whole. IT was very cold and on the outside crunchy but on the inside soft, a great palate cleanser and a fantastic bit of theatre.

Next the red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice cream. I thought the soup was absolutely delicious, so refreshing and the ice cream, although a little odd to have freezing cold mustard it complemented the soup perfectly and was really delicious.

Next came a strange platter of moss placed in the middle of the table. We were each told to open a little plastic case which held a tiny piece of film which we were instructed to place on our tongues in order to fully taste the next course. We were presented with a small plate of truffle on toast - deliciously nutty and earthy and another small round bowl containing a layer of pea puree with quail jelly on top with crayfish cream on top of that and chicken liver parfait placed on top. We were told to eat the whole thing together and then left to enjoy the course with the aroma of the forest/moss swirling between us.

It was certainly an intriguing course with the moss scent heavy on the air and the earthy umami taste from the truffles. However the chicken liver combination was not my favourite my a long way and I found the quail jelly pretty gross to be honest, it reminded me of cat food, which is not something I am a particular fan of.

Next, the infamous snail porridge. After the previous course I was slightly dubious but was delighted with what I tasted. A pea green porridge with parsley, snails and shaved fennel on top. The snails were succulent and delicious. One of my favourite courses.

I am not usually a huge fan of foie gras for ethical reasons but I was not about to turn down The Fat Duck's roast foie gras with Japanese seaweed and crab biscuit and I'm very glad I didn't as it was absolutely delicious. Another of my favourite courses.

We were next invited to the Mad Hatter (of Alice and Wonderland fame)'s tea party. We were first presented with a bowl with an egg type shape with three mushrooms growing out the top and a little piece of beef. We were then given a cup with some hot water in it and were then given two 'golden clock' teabags, or what transpired to be beef consomme covered in gold leaf. We were told to stir the cups of tea before pouring it into our bowls. An amazingly odd but amazingly tasty dish.

Sound of the Sea was one of the dishes I had heard about before coming and so was particularly excited about and it was not about to disappoint. We were each presented with a beautiful seashell which had an ipod hidden in it and a set of iphone protruding out of it.

We were then given our plate of food with what looked like foam from the sea (vegetable and seaweed stock), three types of raw fish, seaweed and samphire on a bed of what looked like sand (tapioca with chopped baby sardines). A salty seaside delight.

Another course I was slightly dubious of upon reading the menu was salmon poached in licorice gel as I am not a huge licorice fan. It was however amazing. The licorice was only just tangible and the salmon was so lightly poached it was almost raw, really quite startlingly delicious. It was served with vanilla mayonnaise, artichokes and golden trout roe.

Next came the 'main course', lamb with cucumber (c. 1805). I cant really remember exacly what it was or what it tasted like but I know it was amaze, another of my faves.

The most amazing cup of tea came next with one side of the cup a warm tea and the other half cold. Wow.

The first dessert was macerated strawberries. I can hardly describe how amazing this dish was. We first got given a little cone with earl grey ice cream and some kind of jelly in it. That was amazing. Then the actual course was a combination of different types of strawberries with little pieces of flower, a pistachio and olive oil biscuit and a white chocolate blanket. Simply amazing.

The next dessert was however a little too rich for my liking, especially after 10 courses. The BFG was a black forest gatteaux with kirsch ice cream and a smell of the black forest (a spritz of something above your head as you ate). Tasty, boozy, but way too rich.

I am not a huge whiskey fan so the next course, despite being a clever idea was not to my liking. We were presented with a photoframe of Scotland with little bottle shaped sweets stuck onto different regions. On peeling each off you discovered which type of whiskey it was, how old, etc. Great for whiskey lovers.

Finally came, like a kid in a sweetshop, a bag of homemade sweeties with a sweetsmelling menu.

They were brilliant. The tobacco coconut was brilliant in such a fun little pouch. The apple toffee sweet which could be eaten in its wrapper was brilliant fun and most tasty of all way a queen of hearts card which tasted like white chocolate filled with jam printed like a playing card.

A very amazing meal. After four and a half hours both Mr P and I were very happy.