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

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ever since I ate at the wonderful Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard, I have been dreaming of their seductive sweetcorn mash. Who would have thought that the addition of some golden creamed corn to mashed potatoes could create what is in my view the ultimate comfort food. Rather than just dreaming about the mash until my next visit to Bob Bob, I decided this month to try and recreate their recipe. Whilst eating it at home doesn’t quite have the restaurant atmosphere (they have blue leather banquettes and very plush wallpaper!), this mash tastes almost as good as theirs, and for a girl who doesn’t travel to London that often, it will do me just fine. Served here with some lip smackingly good lamb, cooked in treacle and mustard for a “tex mex” feel, this dish is perfect for a casual supper with friends, with a large bowl of tortilla chips, soured cream and guacamole served alongside.
Blackened Lamb with Sweetcorn Mash
Serves 2 Preparation time 20 minutes cooking time 30 minutes
2 small racks of lamb, French trimmed (approx 200 – 300g in weight each)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp treacle
1 heaped tbsp muscovado sugar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
200ml red wine
Juice of 1 lime
For the sweetcorn mash
500g potatoes
50g butter
285g sweetcorn, drained weight
Salt and pepper to season
Equipment: Food processor
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C. For the mash, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water until softened, then drain. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, heat the sweetcorn in a separate pan with the butter and cook over a gentle heat for approx. 5 minutes. Blitz the sweetcorn and butter in a food processor until you have a smooth puree. Add the cooked potatoes and blend again until the mixture is smooth and has no lumps. Return to the pan, season with salt and pepper and keep warm until you are ready to serve. To prepare the lamb, heat the oil in a frying pan, then brown the lamb rack for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the treacle, mustard and sugar and spoon over the lamb to glaze. Pour the red wine into the pan around the lamb and cook for 15 – 20 minutes if you like your lamb rare to medium and 25 minutes if you prefer your lamb well done. Remove from the oven and stand the lamb for 5 minutes to rest. Whilst the meat is resting, heat the juices from the roasting pan with the lime juice, adding a little water if the sauce is too thick. Cut the racks into individual cutlets and serve with the sweetcorn mash and sauce spooned over.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Ryland Peters and Small have very kindly said they will publish another of my book ideas - this time its "Popcorn"! If I had a £1
for every popcorn kernel I have popped in the last week I would be a very rich woman indeed! It has been a while since I made popcorn and I had forgotten how fun it is waiting for the popping to start and then when it stops lifting the lid to see all the delicious white kernels. Sadly I had also forgotten how addictive popcorn is - we have eaten rather a lot!!!! The inspiration for the book came from the wonderful Zaramana pop a cobs that I posted on my blog a few months ago (whole dried corn that you pop in the microwave and the little kernels pop off the cob - so much fun). Amelia from Zaramama has very kindly given me lots of hints and tips and has also sent me an enormous box of popping kernels - pop by her website and have a look if you have a minute http://www.zaramama.co.uk/ . I took 6 bowls of popcorn to our sewing circle last night - Raspberry and white chocolate was the most popular as that bowl was the first to empty! The book will be out in Spring next year - what fun!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The bluebell woods near our cottage are in full bloom. Everytime I pass them, they take my breath away seeing the bright blue carpet underneath the trees. It is one of our long term plans to plant bluebells in our woodland but we never seem to find the time - perhaps next year! This lovely photo of my Mum was taking by her friend Linda in the bluebell wood at Coton Manor not far from where we live. What a pretty picture! The bluebell season never lasts long so if you haven't been out to a bluebell wood yet, you'd better be quick!