• You'll see my using this plenty in any number of recipes; it's a timesaver and rescuer of recipes.

    I've yet to find a better electric hand whisk; handling both dough, whisking and beating with ease like no other.  It also has a special trick for winding the cord into itself for neat and tidy storage.  Mine is a charmingly modern shade of chrome, but as you'll see it is available in many colours.

    You can buy one for yourself here from Amazon... [AMAZONPRODUCT=B0002UZ8C8]
    Dualit Hand Mixer Chrome 88400

  • Some things are just meant to be smooth

    This kinda goes with a general rule of less is more; but it is an important extension. It is all too easy to think that smooth and even texture is better than rough and uneven.

    Not true.

    Some things are smooth, others are rough.  Let it be that way.

    You would never try to make a soup all rough and spiky?  So why try to make risotto or yoghurt perfectly smooth?

    Embrace the texture that is natural, and only try to make smooth that which you can easily make perfectly smooth.  Plate elements that can be smoothed are generally either very fluid or sufficiently hard that they can be rolled smooth.  The eye is drawn to the imperfect; so something trying to be smooth, that isn't quite perfect will fault the whole dish.  Studies have shown that this minor disconnect is enough to change the flavour of the dish!

  • Never keep plates sitting around waiting to be served; there are very few exceptions to this rule. Generally the only time you want to keep a plate waiting before heading out to the table is when you need to chill the plate in the refrigerator.

    All garnishes must be fresh - no trying to use prepared garnishes, if you want to sprinkle parsley on the top, it better be freshly picked and chopped.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lksWzjbUung

    Finished Product - Springtime Leek & Potato Soup

    Method

    1. Slice 2 large leeks into varying thickness rings, then do the same to a handful (6/7) hearty spring onions.

      Leeks and Spring Onions Prepared

    2. Take 1 large potato (around 225g) and cut into fine cubes.  The finer the better to help them cook through super-fast.

      Cubed Potato

    3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan (suitable for cooking soup).
    4. Over a medium heat cook the leeks, spring onions and potato for 4 minutes.  The leek rings should start to fall apart, and the potato will start to go tender.
    5. Add 500ml of hot doublestrength vegetable stock.
    6. Allow to settle, before adding 600ml of boiling water.
    7. Stir well, and allow to cook through with a lid on. Do not boil, just simmer for 15minutes (longer if your potato cubes were a little larger than mine).
    8. Allow to cool a little before putting in a blender.
    9. Before hitting the rapid blend button; add a handful of rough chopped coriander.
    10. Blend.
    11. Return the smooth soup to the large pan.  Then stir in a dash of double cream, 50ml should be enough (normally this recipe would call for about 150ml).
    12. Heat through, then serve.

     

  • Essential equipment - following the filming of my Leek & Potato Soup episode I felt the need to invest in a decent ladel.  This is the one that I purchased for £3.99.

    [AMAZONPRODUCT=B000YJ7CUI]

  • Essential for desserts and savoury recipes alike, a good strong sturdy flan tin, with removeable base is essential.  Start with a 20cm tin, and work up from there in building your collection.  A 20cm tin is probably the most useful size; most receipes will aim for this in terms of size.

    [AMAZONPRODUCT=B000LCLPCO]

  • This delicious rolled bread, stuffed with parma ham, mozzarella and basil is like biting into Italy!

    The finished Stromboli bread stuffed with parma ham, mozzarella and basil.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXiba9odhmA

    Prepare the Dough

    1. Take 300g of sifted strong white bread flour, add 1 tsp of fine white salt.  In a large bowl.
    2. Add one sachet of fast action yeast (15g).
    3. Add 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
    4. Add 200ml lukewarm water (from the hot tap before it gets too hot).  Never more than 35 degree centigrade!
    5. Mix, then knead the dough for 6 minutes with an electric whisk with dough hooks attached.
    6. If it's too wet, add more flour and finish by hand.
    7. Make sure the bowl is oily around the edges to stop the dough sticking.
    8. Once silky allow the dough to rise for 1 hr (it'll almost double in size).

    Prepare the Fillings

    1. Chop 150g of mozzarella into thin strips.
    2. Roughly chop two good handfuls of basil leaves.
    3. Prepare slices of parma ham.

    Freshly chopped basil leaves

    Shape the Dough, and Stuff

    1. Stretch out the dough into a rectangle on top of a teflon sheet - aim for 30x40cm sheet of dough.
    2. Place one layer of mozzarella cheese evenly over the dough.

      250g Mozzarella Sliced and Ready

    3. Now layer with the basil.
    4. Next seal in that cheese and basil against the dough with 10 slices of parma ham.
    5. Now roll the dough tightly from the long edge.
    6. Sprinkle with Crunch Sea Salt, garnish with rosemary (5 springs)

    Bake & Serve

    1. Bake in the oven for approximately 1hr (or until golden brown) at 200 degrees centigrade (start for the first 10 minutes at 220).
    2. Allow to cool before serving...it's not a pizza, it's stuffed bread!
    3. Enjoy with a glass of chianti.


  • It's really important to have a good-sized saucepan for boiling up soups and even mixing large volume pasta dishes.  These pans can take a beating, so there are two ways you can go when buying a large pan like this.

    1. Cheap/Cheerful - disposable.
    2. Expensive - durable

    I've gone the cheaper route and opted for a pan not too dissimilar to this one...

    [AMAZONPRODUCT=B0001GRI5I]

    It takes all the abuse it gets when left simmering away for hours and hours, but ultimately, if it gets wrecked, then it's only £10 for a new one.

    The high-end options do need more care, and are more likely to need replacing, but they are beautiful and benefit for a heavy solid base for even heat distribution.

    [AMAZONPRODUCT=B0000AR0LS]

  • These beasties are essential for the preparation of all good pastry cases; flans, quiches, tarts, etc.  Any time you're 'baking blind' then you need something like this on hand.  You can get metal ones, but I find they stay hot for way too long, the ceramic ones seem to cool down faster after baking.  Buy now from Amazon -


  • I've fallen victim to this myself a whole bunch of times. It's so tempting to think that more is more. Turns out, as is so frequently the case...less is more.

    A few dramatic flourishes is way better than trying to create teensie tiny details.

    It's a lot like architecture; the structures that keep the food together should make it beautiful. Do not try to attach flourishes to the structures. The structures are the flourishes.

    The more cluttered the plate then the messier and less attractive it looks.

  • Halloumi with Avocado and Cucumber Salad

    For me this is a springtime classic.  Warm fried Halloumi served on a bed of twisty flowing ribbons of cucumber flesh. Cubes of avocado mingling with the lime, spring onion and parsley dressing.
    httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlAtxT5jyMs

    The method, as you'll see in the video is very simple.

    1. Make thin ribbons of organic cucumber flesh, using a vegetable peeler.  Approximately 1/3rd of a cucumber per person.  Careful not to peel into the wet seedy part of the cucumber.
    2. Place ribbons directly into the serving dishes.
    3. Peel and cube half and avocado per person; add directly to the serving dish.
    4. Start the dressing by cutting 2 spring onions per person into rings; place in a measuring jug.
    5. Add to the measuring jug a little over 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsely.
    6. Now add the juice of a lime to the measuring jug (first of the wet incredients).
    7. Next add 2 tablespoons of olive oil (per person). It feels like a lot, but most of it will get left in the jug and on the leaves that you do not use.
    8. Now pour the juices and spoon some of the onion and parsely mixture over the cucumber and avocado.  Quantity to taste.
    9. Next head 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan - it needs to be super hot.
    10. Now add 1cm thick slices of halloumi cheese - 2 per person.
    11. After about 90 seconds, flip the cheese pieces to reveal a golden brown side.
    12. 60 seconds later and the cheese will be toastes perfectly on both sides.
    13. Place on the salad bed; a garnish, twist of black pepper, and serve immediately!
  • With all the pundits predicting an austere winter and spring, many of us will no doubt be opting to entertain at home, rather than go out for meals. Tony Chuck, owner of Teddington Cheese, says that business is already booming as people and reviving the dinner party and consequently giving more consideration to the cheese course.

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