Today I am going to a reunion dinner (15 years since matriculation) at my old college - it's making me feel so old (I am still not sure that it can possibly be 15 years) but am really looking forward to catching up with people I have lost touch with over the years. So much has changed in that time and I wonder whether any of them will have been watching Masterchef! At least I will have something to talk about when they ask me what I have been doing and I will be the only person there who has cooked at 10 Downing Street so at least I have one claim to fame! It will also be good to sample college food again - as a student I remember it being pretty good (£4.20 for the three course meal - no one can complain at that!) but my palette has changed considerably over the last 15 years so I hope it will be as good as I remember!
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
140grams self-raising flour
Monday, 26 March 2007
I had a lovely day yesterday at the Stagsden Farmers Market and Craft Fair - signing lots of autographs (something that I still haven't got used to!) It was really warm and sunny and finally feels like Spring has arrived.
The market was held at the farm of my favourite butchers, Browns of Stagsden. Browns were huge supporters of mine throughout Masterchef and provided lots of free bones that I used to make my stocks during the competition. Their pork and cracked black pepper sausages are the best! We had filmed there for the final programme but they were sadly edited out. If you are in the area, I definitely recommend a visit.
The fair was full of local producers - something I am very much in favour of supporting. The highlight for me was meeting a local beekeeper who is going to teach me about keeping bees - this has been a long term dream of mine and it might now become a reality! I can think of nothing nicer than having a cupboard full of jars of my own cottage honey and a lovely white beehive in our orchard!
Friday, 23 March 2007
I have to say that I am overwhelmed by the number of requests I have had for the lamb with wild mushroom recipe from my final menu. I don't think I will ever live down undercooking my lamb and my only excuse can be that I had flu on the last day and was just a bit fuzzy in the head. I am certain however that, even had I cooked my lamb properly, Steven would still have been crowned the rightful winner. Deservedly so as his final menu dishes were perfect. The recipe for the mushrooms can be found on the bbc food website at the following link http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/rackoflambwithwildmu_85852.shtml
Thursday, 22 March 2007
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
While the meringues are cooking, mix together four tablespoons of unsweetened chestnut purée, 100g/3½oz of ground pistachios, two tablespoons of icing sugar and five finely chopped marrons glaces. Put the mixture into a piping bag and when the meringues are cooked, carefully lift them one at a time from the tray and pipe the nut mixture into the meringue from the underside. They can be eaten hot or cold, with double cream. Lovely!
Monday, 19 March 2007
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Friday, 16 March 2007
Thursday, 15 March 2007
What a week this has been! Steven and I watched yesterday's programme together and I think we were both amazed by what we had achieved at both Downing Street and the Savoy. It all seemed like a dream watching it back and I was so proud of my chocolate dessert. There were chefs there to guide us but we did every step ourselves and I am so proud of us all. I can safely say it is a night I will never forget and we rocked! Best of all was that John and Gregg were so proud of us all and I, for one, am glad that we didn't let them down.
No time for a recipe today so thought I would just post a picture of my little dragon cake! It went down very well for my nephew Taran!
Monday, 12 March 2007
Another weekend...another cake! This was a victoria sandwich filled with clotted cream, fresh strawberries and strawberry jam. I use the same quantaties as the lemon drizzle cake below but omiting the lemon zest and lemon icing. For an extra treat melt some dark chocolate and spread over the two cake halves whilst the are cooling. Chocolate, cream and strawberries - is there any better combination?
David is an amazing cook - totally unique - I so admire his determination to bring back good old British classics that really should never have been forgotten in the first place. David and I share a love of baking and I know that we will always be friends. He had amazing support throughout the competition from his lovely wife Helen and daughter Cerys and I really look forward to meeting them one day soon.
David is already following his foodie dreams - I know he will be a great success and I wish him every bit of luck in the world with his new projects xxx
Sunday, 11 March 2007
1 savoy cabbage, leaves separated
1 pack of sausages (any variety but we like traditional English best)
salt and pepper
50grams salted butter
Blanch the cabbage leaves for 3 minutes in boiling salted water until soft. Drain and set aside. Remove the skin from the sausages and mix the sausagemeat together. In a cast iron casserole dish, line the bottom with some of the cabbage leaves, places a third of the sausagemeat on top and then continue layering the cabbage leaves and sausage meat, seasoning between each layer and ending with cabbage leaves on top. Chop the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the top cabbage layer. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on top. Press down and fold in at the sides so that it forms a tight lid. Place the casserole lid on top and cook in a moderate over Gas Mark 5, 180 oC for approximately 40 minutes. Serve in slices with warm crusty bread. Very simple but definitely tasty!
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Thursday, 1 March 2007
With a large family, it always seems to be someone's birthday and it falls to me as our family "baker" to make the cakes. This is the cake I made for my Grandma's 86th birthday - lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd, buttercream and strawberries decorated with butterflies and fresh flowers. It is made in several layers - three layers in a 10 inch cake pan and then the top layer is half a sphere, made using a football cake pan I have - with the cream and lemon curd between each layer.
Gas Mark 5/180 oC
10 inch ring pan lightly greased
8oz marg or butter
8oz caster sugar
Cream the butter and sugar together
Add in 4 large eggs and mix until light and foamy.
Sift in 8oz self raising flour and fold in grated rind of two lemons and fold in gently. Bake in the oven for about 25 mins - I usually turn it round half way through so that it browns all over. Just before the cake is ready, heat the juice of two lemons with a large table spoon of icing sugar in a saucepan. Pour over cake as soon as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool.
Makes 1 pound of curd
4 oz butter
8 oz sugar
6 tbsp lemon juice (I use a large old tablespoon)
Grated rind of 3 large lemons
3 eggs beaten - I use large ones, double yolks if possible
Place butter, sugar, lemon juice and rind in a large bowl. Cook uncovered on full power (650 watt) for 3 minutes stirring half way through. Beat eggs into mixture gradually but quickly using a balloon whisk. Make sure it is well blended. Cook for 5 minutes or until lemon curd thickens. CHECK AND STIR EVERY MINUTE - DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL (or you will have lemon scrambled egg!) Allow to cool a little then put into a clean jar or two. Happy cooking - the smell when you are making this is divine!
Blueberry and Lemon Cheesecake
I made this in the first round of Masterchef in the invention test. I was so proud as Gregg said in his interview in the Radio Times that it was his favourite dish of the series!
500 grams Marscapone cheese, 250 ml creme fraiche, 1 or 2 lemons, 300 grams blueberries, 300 grams digestive biscuits, 100 grams melted butter, 100 grams whole almonds, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tbsp icing sugar
Line and grease a 10inch spring form tin. Blitz the digestives and almonds together in a food processors to fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and stir to ensure all the biscuit crumbs are coated. Press the crumb mixture into the base of the spring form tin and leave to cool slightly. Heat 100grams of the blueberries in a baking tray in the oven for approximately 5 mins until they become soft and very juicy. Sprinkle the warmed blueberries over the biscuit base. Mix together the mascapone, finely grated rind of the lemon, the creme fraiche and 1 tbsp icing sugar. Taste for sweetness - if you like it sweet add more icing sugar or if you prefer a tarter flavour add a small squeese of the lemon juice. Spoon the mixture into the tin and chill in the fridge for an hour (or longer if time permits). To make the blueberry sauce simmer the remaining blueberries, caster sugar with the juice of the lemon and 50ml of water for approximately 10 mins, until the blueberries are very soft and the sauce is thick and syrupy. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar or lemon juice as needed. Leave the sauce to cool and pour over the cheesecake to serve.
Last weekend was our niece Devina's birthday - she is growing up so fast and is now 13. We had a lovely family party and my brother Gareth was over from New York! This is my standard chocolate cake recipe - it is so easy to make and very versitile. For Devina's cake I doubled the receipe and make it in two cake pans one slightly smaller than the other to give the tiered "wedding cake" effect. When cooled I covered the cake in vanilla buttercream and covered it with fondant icing, pink buttercream andlots of red and pink sweets and ribons and feathers. Chocolate cake (to make one 10 inch sandwich cake)Ingredients: 8oz stork margarine, 8oz caster sugar, 4 large eggs, 7oz self raising flour, 2oz Cadbury's cocoa powder, 100grams of chopped chocolate (any will do but I like white chunks for contrast)
Grease and line the two sandwich tins. Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffly. Add in the eggs one at a time mixing so that the batter becomes light and creamy. If the mixture curdles, I add a spoonful of the flour. Sift in the flour and cocoa and fold gently to incorporate. Fold in the chocolate pieces and divide between the two cake tins. Cook for 20/25mins in a moderate oven 180 degrees, gas mark 5 or roasting oven of the aga with a cold shelf above until the cake springs back when you touch it and a knife comes out clean. Leave to cook and then sandwich together with chocolate butter cream.