Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

There are few things more satisfying than making your own spice mix. The aroma released by the spices as you heat them in the pan is terrific. I remember waiting in the Masterchef studio when we were just about to start cooking at the start of the semis (this was my ginger chicken and prawn with spiced chips dish). My spices had been placed next to the oven and had warmed up - it felt as if they were speaking to me telling me to cook with them! If you have ever seen the film "Mistress of Spices" you will know what I mean - I love that film! There are no rules really about what you can and can't add to a spice mix - it is all about personal preference! This one contained coriander seeds, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, fenugreek, cumin seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Once the spices are heated, simply blitz them in a spice grinder or crush them in a pestle and mortar and then seal them in a jar. Although they do last, some of the flavour is lost over time so it is best to make small quantities. For a delicious spiced omelet cook a finely chopped small onion in a tablespoon of ghee or olive olive in a large frying pan together with some finely chopped ginger, garlic and chilli (the chilli can be omitted if you want) with a pinch of salt until they are all soft - don't rush this stage! Add a few teaspoons of your spice mix (or shop brought garam marsala is fine if you don't have time to make your own spice mix) and cook for a further 2 minutes. If I have any in the fridge I also add a tsp of rose harissa paste for an extra chilli kick - again not essential! Whisk 4 eggs in a bowl and then pour into the frying pan and cook until the egg is set - if you have a grill you can place the pan under the grill once the omelet is almost cooked and it will rise slightly to give you a fluffier omelet. Serve with bread and coriander chutney.

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