Monthly Archives: March 2014

MSN food: twice in one month!

I’m really not very good at taking compliments. I have this irritating tendency to get flustered when people greet me with praise. I look for the nearest thing to hide behind, embarrassed, not quite knowing what to do with myself and turning a lovely shade of scarlet (not the most becoming colour). Despite this I am unbelievably proud of my supper club and how well its done. Despite my squirming-at-praise tendencies, like most people I like being recognised for my hard work and achievements (as long as its not too public!!). This is probably why I prefer being safely hidden behind the camera and not standing in front of it. It’s a case of thank you for recognising my work and talents, but please don’t make a big deal of it (as well as being horribly unphotogenic and terribly vain!)

I’m quite at home with my strange, psychological insecurities (in which I’m sure I’m not alone). I always doubt myself, find fault, waiting to fuck up. My second chef Mark summed it up when he announced to his students (that I was mentoring and giving a talk to) that I was a highly strung perfectionist. I wasn’t sure whether to take issue with the highly strung bit, but I guess he is correct in some ways, but then aren’t all chefs?

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This month I have received not one, but two nice little accolades from MSN. The first  was a MSN food review of Britain’s Best Home pop-ups.  I am now not only listed among the pioneers of the supper club scene (I started in 2009) but one of the stalwarts since I’m one of few that are still running since the early days. My formula has changed little; I have a laid back and intimate style with sometimes quite simple grub, while at other times it can be wildly experimental. With the former style in mind, it was with pleasure that I contributed to MSN again, this time as an ‘expert’ in my new role as a freelance tutor at Bodnant Cookery School. Contributing simple ideas for cooking, guidance on what to choose and recipes for Welsh lamb. Check out the article here.

Roast lamb (© Sainsbury's)

Image from Sainsbury’s courtesy of MSN

And now i’m off to cook for tonight’s Earth Hour Supper Club…see you on the other side!

 

 

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Filed under British food, in the press, living room restaurant, local produce, Organic meat, Recipes, reviews, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, Welsh food, Welsh produce

Recipe for home-made granola (its not just for breakfast!)

Well hello home-made granola, where have you been all my life! (and why have I never made you before)? It really couldn’t be easier.

I guess out of laziness I’ve always bought packs of granola, not imagining home-made would be any better than some of the good brands out there on sale. How wrong I was. Now I have to say, I do love Dorset Cereals granola, but now I’ve discovered home-made is on another level. Not only is it healthier (you can control the sugar content) but you can add whatever you like to the recipe, if you prefer certain nuts then just add more of them. I’ve tried to introduce more seeds, nuts and dried fruit to my diet recently so my recipe had a generous addition of sesame and pumpkin seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans which are my favourites. They are a great source of fibre, contain omega 3 (healthy fats) and are reputedly good for reducing inflammation and preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Instead of butter, sugar or golden syrup I used agave and maple syrup, plus a bit of local honey and some nut oil.

What I love about this granola is that you don’t just have to eat it for breakfast. It’s true to say I usually start my day with granola. Just a handful sprinkled on Rachel’s organic vanilla yogurt with some fresh or dried fruit sets me up nicely, but I also discovered that it’s just as nice as a quick and attractive dessert requiring minimal effort. Another brilliant thing is that once you’ve made a big batch of granola it keeps for a while (probably around 4 weeks) as long as you store it in a sealed airtight tub. But if my kid is anything to go by though it wont last that long. He’s not usually a cereal fan but couldn’t get enough of this!

food 008

Layer chopped kiwi fruit, fresh chopped pineapple and banana, with Rachel’s organic Mango yogurt and home-made granola for a healthy tropical dessert.

Home-made granola:

300g of rolled or jumbo oats

50g sunflower or pumpkin (or a mix of both) seeds

50g sesame seeds

1 tablespoon flax-seed

150g mixed nuts (flaked almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews) chopped

1 large tablespoon nut oil

60ml agave syrup

60ml maple syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

25g desiccated coconut

50 to 100g dried fruit

Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150 degrees C.

Mix the wet ingredients (oil, syrup/honey and vanilla) in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients (except the fruit and coconut) and mix well ensuring that it is all coated (you may have to add a little more honey or syrup if it looks too dry). Spread the mixture out fairly thinly on either one large or two smaller baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes before checking and giving it a bit of stir to make sure of an even bake. give it another 5 minutes then add the coconut. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes keeping an eye on it and stirring a bit if necessary. Once it is a lovely golden brown remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break up any really big chunks and store in an airtight container.

Lovely golden granola

Lovely golden granola

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Filed under baking, family budget cooking, home cooking, Recipes