Wordless Wednesday

23 Feb

Nice pastries gotta eat them warm ūüôā

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Bubbly on a Budget

23 Feb

Valentines dessert day

15 Feb

Its Valentines day!¬† expectations¬†running high , lack of romance ? Doing¬†a meal is always the best option –¬†for me (being a chef) , and at least this way I can¬†have a nice long play in the kitchen. Although we agreed that¬†we wouldn’t¬†get¬†each other¬†prezies¬†(we exchanged cards though:))¬†I thought it would be nice to do something special¬† – pop in a roast Honey & Mustard ‘mini’¬†Bacon Joint , with some veggies – sticky beetroot , roast rosemary potatoes , Carrot & swede puree.¬†But a meal isn’t¬†a meal with out a dessert!¬†(& some Caramelised onion bread).

So I sent the¬†lovely wife out for a bit (not sure where she went?!) , then ‘cracked on’ with making bread & the dessert.

Bread I’ll cover off another day – it was simple bread recipe , shaped into a bloomer, finished 1/2 way through proving with¬†some pre-caramelised onions with balsamic.

The dessert: Strawberry & white chocolate Panna cotta with vanilla served with honey Tuille biscuits ,Star anise &  strawberry jelly.

ingredients needed:

makes 4 portions

300ml double cream

125gms white chocolate

60gms icing sugar

100gms caster sugar

1 vanilla pod – cut lengthways

2 small leaf gelatine ( 1 for Panna cotta , 1 for jelly)

120gms strawberries (6 single)

300mls water  

Tuille biscuit mix:

120gms plain flour         3 tbsp honey           40gms icing sugar          1 egg white                        1 teasp vanilla essence    30gms melted butter



Start your Panna cotta mix by bringing to boil the cream , split vanilla & 1/2 of the sugar , 1/2 the white chocolate together, then add the (pre-soaked) gelatine.Whisk over heat well. 

In a bowl whisk 3 of the cut strawberries , remaining icing sugar. Once blended combine with the cream & vanilla mix. Pour the Panna cotta mix into moulds or rings and chill in the fridge.

Mix all of the tuille biscuit ingredients together until a paste is formed. Using a palate knife spread the paste over a plastic template (I used a heart shape!). make sure when spreading the biscuit mix over the tray that the tray is either non stick or use a silicone mat. 

  Next focus on making the jelly Рthis goes on the top of the Panna cotta and a little used for the  sauce.

Place the water , star anise , caster Sugar & 1 of the strawberries (chopped) into a pan and bring to the boil. reduce by 1/3 Рadd 1 leaf of pre-soaked gelatine. Whisk until dissolved and clear. Remove from the heat. Once cool pour 1/2 on top of the Panna cotta Рthis should be no more than 10mm.Place back into the fridge to Set fully.  

Blend the last of the strawberries with 1/2 of the remaining jelly until a smooth sauce is made.  

The finishing touch –¬†melt the remaining chocolate and spread over some¬†grease-proof (shave some dark chocolate in over the white) then place in the freezer to set (very hard!)¬†

Plate up as the picture – I added some dried sugared vanilla, although the kids(watching us eating)¬†didn’t get why we were eating sugared twigs….

Its Raining apples

17 Sep

High winds combined with a huge bumper crop of Apples¬†prompted¬†me to make & bake with my apples( I had so much I couldn’t¬†see the grass on the garden) – as they had all fallen off (also hitting the neighbours car – sorry!) , I’ve got a mix of apples¬†1 tree out front of the house has – bitter cooking apples (they go a lovely rosy red colour) they¬†have the taste similar to Bramley apples. The other Apples¬†(in the back garden) are sweet Eatting¬†apples –¬†Cox’s¬†pippins I recon?


Anyway I fancied making as lovely little Dutch apple tart with cinnamon , sultanas and a nice little lattice top( I know very fluffy!)



Dutch Apple Tart  

ingredients you will need:  

obviously some apples! x 6 med sized apples will do.

120g Sultana or raison

120g soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

For the pastry:

180g plain flour 

40g cornflour

100g butter(chilled)

100g castor sugar

1 egg yolk.

   Make the pastry by rubbing all dry(flour etc) with the butter , then add the egg yolk. Bring together as a paste and wrap & chill in the fridge(leave for 20 mins). 

Once chilled roll out 3/4 of the paste and place in a tart dish. Prick the bottom and put back in fridge for 10 minutes to rest.  

Peel & chop the apples(I used a mix of both). Add the vanilla 1/2 the cinnamon and the sultanas & 1/2 the soft brown sugar. 

 Place the tart in the oven to bake blind (approx 10 minutes)

 Place the apple mix into the tart case (keep some of the juice from the apples and set aside usually in the bottom of the bowl!)

Now roll out the remaining paste and cut into long strips. Secure these strips onto the outside rim of the tart with a little egg yolk & water mix.

 Now brush the reserved apple juice over the lattice , sprinkle the remaining sugar and the left over cinnamon.

¬†Place the¬†tart in the oven on around 170 degree Celsius –¬†¬†¬† cook for around 20 minutes (or until the¬†lattice is cooked and brown(ing)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†


Serve this little¬†¬†baby (Hot or Cold)with some Cornish clotted cream or a jug load of custard.¬† hmm hmm ….




Wild Camping

22 Aug

Just back from 2 weeks of camping in St Austell in Cornwall , then a few days in a little village  called Llancloudy near Ross on wyre on the border of Wales. The Weather was good and we all enjoyed being out under the stars at night..

Even though we were camping I was sure that we were going to eat like kings.¬†A nice ‘little’ warmer was Saute chicken with bacon , baby potatoes and – you guest¬†it finished with¬†good old tetley bitter!!

 ingredients needed:

  4x chicken thighs & Drum sticks

  1 garlic clove (crushed)

  2 tablespoons tomato paste

  4 table spoons of sugar

  4 slices of thick smoked bacon  (chopped)

12 x peeled and washed small new potatoes

First mix the tomato paste, sugar and garlic together then rub into the thighs and drumsticks.

With a hot pan fry the chicken pieces adding the bacon 1/2 way through. Turn the chicken over ensure you brown all over (no pink chicken!).I had to use both my pans (only got two camping ones) as the chicken was a little bigger than I thought..ooops!

Once the chicken is brown add the tetley beer – this will need to reduce down

Once the beer has reduced add the new potatoes and 1 cup full of water , black pepper and salt. Simmer for around 10-15 mins or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Serve with Crusty bread 

We managed to Buy some nice fresh crusty baguette from a local little bakery in Tintagel.

With so many places to visit – packed lunches , a rucksack¬†and walking boots were the way forward… great fun

From St Micheal¬†mount to the Fairy Glen near abergavennythe¬†kids loved it….


Eatting along the Solway coast

15 May

On a recent trip to Scotland camping (Dumfries and Galloway¬†area) we found a great camp site –¬†Solway Seaview¬†,a small but really friendly site right on the Solway firth¬†coast. superb weather for camping!!

the site had wigwams too!

Sausage & bacon butties on the beach , these were followed with fresh mussels from the firth picked by me and the girls.








Fresh Mussels

What you need: A beautiful¬†hot day,¬†Hot pan on the beach (Yes! I brought my gas stove along) smoked bacon fat , fresh mussels (washed and¬†cleaned on the beach) , a little garlic clove (I always carry around in my rucksack, don’t you?)¬†, plate over the mussels. 10 minutes and bobs your uncle – beautiful¬†tasty¬†Scottish mussels straight from the sea.¬†

The kids wouldn’t¬†try the mussels¬†as they thought it was cruel to kill them in the first place.They were just clinging on to the rocks minding their own business minutes ¬†before I came along ( and them) to¬†eat them.¬†So the¬†Girls had a mussel¬†funnel¬†on the¬†beach with¬†gravestones and names for each victim¬† ,¬†¬†weird children¬†!

When we were king’s in Shanghai

30 Jan

Early January I found I had (Totally out of the blue) Рhad to go to china РShanghai to carry out some training with some of our china team on a new cafe opening. The training and day-to-day things were fine , we ate out a bit and saw a few sites(11 hour flight was great fun!).

A memorable place to eat was a great restaurant ( only locals Рvery few Europeans go there) , Du SU dong in central Shanghai.  All I can say was their ribs were great full of Schwann spices and chilli overload. We ate chicken pop pop with peanuts and chillies , some really nice sides , hot pickled crunchy( Julienne/fine batons) potato with peppers,  pulled fried chicken with fried chillies ( nice but rather hot!!) .       

We were lucky to have a guide(¬†colleague¬†from our China office!)¬†¬†showing us the restaurants¬†to eat in.¬† The people¬†were great –¬†really friendly and very Kind.¬†¬†Westerners¬†are¬†seen as kings here¬†, Chinese ¬†people¬†seem in general¬†to be very happy to have us here westernising their country. Theres Starbuck’s¬†& costa¬†around¬†every corner – but also some truly¬†great little chinese bakeries and patisserie¬†shops. As a former¬†pastry chef I was really impressed by the quality of bakery items and amount of chinese¬†folk having coffee and doughnuts!! odd as tea should rule here.

I thought this picture summed up me & John’s¬†(my colleague) trip to Shanghai – this would be how we “could” have ended up¬† – food was great and¬†we were treated with¬†respect (almost treated like Kings). And after all we did fly virgin upper class too…… cheers¬†Mr Branson¬†¬†

Snow and more snow

23 Dec

Just when we thought the snow had gone ! – It’s very¬†cold and there’s snow everywhere¬†(well in the north-east anyway!). The kids love it as they get to throw white stuff at¬†each other , and I get to make them a funky snowman!

We’ve just got back today from an “overnighter” in Edinburgh – It was seriously cold !! kids enjoyed it as they had a go at Ice skating and we wandered around the German market. Because it so cold I thought I’d have a go at making a nice little winter warmer – some mulled wine….

  You need:

¬†1x ¬†full bottle Red wine – any strong red – i’m not fussed!

2 oranges peeled (rind , juice and orange go in)

2 x satsumas (just segments)

6x cloves

2x cinnamon sticks  , 5 tablespoons of honey

you can add a little more orange juice to make this go further or less stronger .. its your choice.

Happy festive drinking !! 


7 Nov

My recent competition entry :  Apple & ginger crumble with a Vanilla & lemon balm Panna cotta , served with Apple & cinnamon fritters.

Whats your favourite pudding? let me know

Autumn’s here

1 Nov

Leaves are falling off the trees – Autumn’s here , nearly all my apples have gone (we had an apple crumble fest!!)¬†¬†but soon it’ll be christmas. At work we’ve planned a load of menus and really good dishes¬†for christmas(starts¬†November)¬†and are working on summer next year ready for launch in may¬†2011. Us wicked chefs never stop !

I’ve had a great few weeks starting with restaurant show in earls court competing as Compass Chef of the year (see link below)http://www.therestaurantshow.co.uk/page/compass_junior_senior_chef_of_th.html¬†demostrating deli tastings in Glasgow and bristol to my¬†loyal follower’s¬†, then college on friday (cert ed course) ¬†

I thought I’d drop a couple of pictures in of dishes I’ve just done up for christmas – Egg¬† nog (really good taste!)¬†, a lovely seafood platter with prawns ,crab and salmon.


Want to do have a go with a little something different over Christmas Рtry this dish with turkey breast , Bacon & cheese :

toasted sourdough bread (1 slice)

sliced cooked turkey breast  x 5 small slices or 120g

sliced cooked streaky bacon x 3 slices cut in half

Mature cheddar cheese(stronger the better) x 5 small slices

Cranberry sauce x 2 Tbsp

rocket salad x 20g

olive oil x 1 tbsp

Balsamic x 1 teaspoon

Dried cranberries & chopped chives to garnish


Make up the dressing with the balsamic , olive oil & chopped cranberries(dried)¬†– dress the rocket and place in a centre of the plate, cut the hot toasted sourdough and place on the salad… drizzle with remaining dressing.

Adventures in the UK!

Chronicles of a Texan's study abroad and internship experience in London

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Make-Meals Mama

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