Sunday 31 October 2010

Lychee and Raspberry Chewing Gum

Jazzy and I had the best day yesterday making our own chewing gum at Bompas and Parr in Whiteley's pop up factory (truly lovely boys). I was excited anyway but it was double exciting that Jasmine has never had chewing gum and she was super excited. The last photo is of Jazz chewing her own gum her words were "this is so cool, I feel like a teenager!"
So first to the flavour library with hundreds of combinations to choose from. What two flavours to choose? Beer and bacon? Cigarettes and caviar? The possibilities were endless and just sniffing the jars was a giggly experience with a 5 year old. I went for lychee and raspberry.. I dont know when I'll get the chance to make my own chewing gum again and I would much rather be able to appreciate it than feel like I'm chewing on a cigarette (could work for some people I suppose?!)

 Then we had little capsules of our flavours to take to the "factory room"...

 Picking out the colourings, the citric acid and water to mix in with the mastic and then a tonne of icing sugar and our flavourings.

 The look on the girls face was priceless, you've never seen anyone more proud of their work.

Thank you Jazz, my little sous chef.

Friday 29 October 2010

Pita breads

So easy to do and freeze so well, so give 'em a go!

2 cups plain flour (or wholemeal if you like)
1 1/2 cups warm water (I use tap)
1 packet of active dry yeast
1 tsp of sugar
1tsp of salt
You can add anything from cayenne to Za'atar...

In a small bowl, stir the packet of yeast with the sugar and mix in the water. Leave for 10 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt and any spices in a large bowl, when the yeast looks like it’s reacting, add it to the flour.
Mix with a big metal spoon and then flour your hands and form into a ball. It’s really sticky at this stage but just flour your work surface and knead it for a good ten minutes until its well formed, soft dough.
Now pop it back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film and put into a warm place for an hour to rise.  
I know it seems a shame but now you got to knock the dough down and knead it again for a few minutes. Now roll into small balls the size of a lime and roll each one out into the shape you want, either in a circle or oval shape.
Cover again to rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 250C
 Pop your pitas onto the heaviest baking tray you have, it only takes about 5 minutes but just wait until they are turning golden brown at the edges.
CAREFULL – Pitas are crazy hot air pockets!
Cool and fill with whatever you choose, I love falafel, pickled veggies and hummus. 

Thursday 28 October 2010

Beef class at The Ginger Pig

Last night Nick and I went to The Ginger Pig at Marylebone for a night of BEEF. 
Yes I was one of only two girls there, with ten men plus our two butchers Borut and Perry... aaand yeah Beef is a bit of a macho meat and there was a hint or two of macho-ness in class but so much fun.

I would have loved to have taken more pictures so I could explain the cuts and take you step by step through it all but to be honest your hands get pretty bloody. When you've got your hands clean again Perry likes you to slap the meat. I'm not sure if this is to tenderise or flatten or just because it's satisfying and he likes the sound it makes?

So, we went in and donned some white coats and talked about dry curing the beef and where The Ginger Pig raise their free-range animals and how they do it, explaining that Organic isn't always better ( We talk about the fattier meat- the sweeter. The meat near the head, the shoulders and neck and also the shins are the muscles that are worked the most so require the most cooking. 

We start with a little competition - who can hold half the carcass arms stretched out in front of you for more than 25 seconds? The winner gets to take home a massive ribeye steak when we came across it.. 

Nicko hard at work...
We learn about every cut of meat, what it's called as it is, on the bone, off the bone, what you should do with it how long to cook it. We all have a go at sawing through bones and slicing through meat, could get a job as a butcher and save yourself the gym membership, it's hard work! 
Boy did it pay off, whilst we were each creating our Cote De Boeuf (sawing, slicing, rolling, slapping, cleaning the bones and learning butcher's knots) Borut was resting enough beef to feed 40 for 12 of us. Served with Dauphinoise potatoes and salad. Whilst we had a lesson in carving from Borut, Perry was transforming our work tables into a dinner table, this duo have this class wrapped up! 

You could almost hear the ravenous rumbles in our bellies so when all dished up with plenty of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon it felt like the beginnings of a pie eating contest (Well the standing up, the paper cloths,the overalls, the sheer anticipation) But once the first bit of beef melted on the tongue silence fell upon us. 
 Pure carnivores eating in bloody whites.. 
 And then as if we weren't all stuffed the most amazing bread and butter pudding arrives!

I have to say the class comes at a price (£135) but it is worth every penny. 
Not only is it three hours, its so informative and interactive and with a delicious dinner and wine you'd think it was enough but you also get to take home your Cote De Boeuf all wrapped up plus bones for stock. When weighing your meat for cooking purposes you'll see you're taking home £££ in beef to wow your friends. 

I loved this night, Nick loved this night and if you love meat, you will too. Borut and Perry are fantastic and teach you more than you'd expect to learn with all the banter and yummy extras thrown in there too. 

Thank you Perry and Borut.

Monday 25 October 2010

SOUP glorious soup!

When the winter kicks in and you need some warming up, nothing beats homemade soup. When someone makes it for you it's even better, like a whole lotta love ladled into one bowl and it's comfort food at its best. You could have lost your oyster card or stepped through a puddle but all the day's frustrations melt away with a bowl of soup.
Try perking up your veg with crispy pancetta and lovage. Its got a great fresh flavour, a little like celery and as Lovage tea can be applied to wounds as an antiseptic, I'm guessing it's probably doing you some good too!

Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory

I had a lovely weekend break and can't wait to embrace a foodie week in London now Nick has a few days off for holiday. Yesterday my Grandad bought me up some vension sausages, a partridge and a pheasant from his local butchers in the country and with the chilly weather setting in I can't wait to get them braised, roasted and stewed!
Tonight Nick and I are off to the Ginger Pig for a butchers class in Beef and tomorrow we're going to head down to Whiteley's shopping centre for a lesson in making chewing gum by Bompas and Parr. Get yourself down there this week to play around with 4,000 flavour combinations and produce your own gum for £2.50!!

Blogged results to follow...

Friday 22 October 2010

LuLu and Co & Harvey Nichols

I was asked to do a churros kiosk at Harvey Nichols 5th floor space for a party ... churros just so happens to be a little weakness of mine so was there in a shot. The theme was Disco Mexicana for the LuLu and Co Launch Party. Fiona Leahy organised the event and it looked just spectacular - check out their blog. The party went with a bang and Bistroteque cooked up a Mexican storm from their "Bistrotaco" kitchen. (Just so happened to have had an amazing night at Bistroteque on Fri..must blog that)

I'm sure I'll get some more photos in time, at the moment I only have a few before shots before the party got going and I got too busy frying batch after batch of fresh hot churros to serve with chocolate sauce, Dulce de leche, sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut or hazelnuts.

 The first guests arrive..

What a week!

What a week! Had a couple of canapé parties and a night of churros and glamour... more on the churros later but some cute pics of the canapés to make you hungry! I can be safe looking at foodie photos as I have just ordered us in a curry. OOOh the anticipation of a trying a new takeaway. Beers are in the Fridge.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

They really are amazing. I only seem to make these for canape parties but really I should make them up for lunch sometimes or for starters because they make me all excited and because you eat them cold you can tweak the flavours until they are perfect before you serve them. 

You need to soak each wrapper, one by one in hot water until its soft and then lay down onto a clean J cloth.

Make your filling by cooking and cooling vermicilli noodles and mixing with whatever you like! I shred cabbage, carrot, chillies, mint, coriander and spring onions and mix with prawns, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, japanese vinegar and a dash of sesame oil and seasoning.  
Start  by pressing down  a few coriander leaves and then layer noodle mix on top

 Pack tightly and roll the wrapper away from you. Before you get to the end, tuck in the sides and then continue to roll until you end up with a spring roll!

 I make another dressing with the same wet ingredients as above with a touch more soy, mint and chilli. I then cut the rolls in half and drizzle a little dressing on top of each one so you don't have to get messy dipping them!