Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Canapes...

Canapes are the best invention since the hand! To have a tiny little mouthful of flavour, no cutlery necessary and often taken with a glass of really doesn't get much better than that!

So here are my favorite canapes, to be honest there all just old classics with a bit of a twist!

1.Turkey and Cranberry Pastries

2. Mini sausage wrapped in a sage leaf and Parmaham

3. Tiger Prawns with Lemon Thyme Creme Fraiche

4. Ham Hock with Piccalilli

5. Brussel Sprout, Bacon and Cashew nuts

6. Vintage Cheddar with Onion Marmalade

7. Raisin Bread with Stilton and honey

8. Mini Mince Pies

9. Mini Choc and Vanilla Cream Log

10. Clementine dipped in Chocolate

The Beautiful English Vineyards!

I had absolutely no idea that England produced such wonderful wines until I was lucky enough to visit one in Devon a few weeks ago. My wonderful farmer friend Rob Corbett is working with the owner of Lyme Bay Winery and we were truly spoilt with what we saw and what we drank!

Pretty Canape serving girls

Monday, 6 December 2010

Meatball Mania.....

I have to admit that Meatballs have, and probably always will be, my guilty pleasure. Get them right and they are succulent little mouthfuls of pure satisfaction. Comfort food at its greatest and perfect for a Monday night in front of the TV with a small glass of red!

Ive noticed recently that I am not the only one admitting to my meatball fetish, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Nigella have all been confessing too!

This recipe is also perfect for boys who believe that the only two dinners that they can cook are spag bowl and chili con carne.

So here is my Meatball and Quinoa recipe that will should hopefully leave you dribbling for more...

Meatballs with Quinoa and Tomato Sauce

Quick note: For those of you that haven’t heard of Quinoa, it is a crunchy grain/crop that has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as it protein content is very high (12-18%) unlike wheat or rice. It works really well with this recipe as it adds a crunchy texture and also makes this a rather healthy dinner!!


For the Meatballs
100g Breadcrumbs
500g minced Beef
250g mince Pork (or just buy some good quality sausages and squeeze out the meat from the skin!)
1 tbsp fresh Rosemary finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh Coriander finely chopped
1 tbsp Dried Oregano
2 eggs
2 tbsp Mustard (either Dijon or whole grain!)
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

For the Quinoa and Tomato Sauce
400g Quinoa
2 pints veg stock
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil roughly chopped (save a few leaves for the garnish!)
Half a red chilli, de seeded and finely chopped
2 x 400g Tins of Chopped tomatoes (you can now get tinned cherry tomatoes which are deliciously sweet...if you can get them do!).
1 lemons juice
200g Frozen Petit Pois
Grated Parmesan

For the meatballs. Add all the ingredients together and mix well with your hands. Season. The mixture will make 28 meatballs, so split the mixture in quarters and then each quarter into 7. Drizzle olive oil over the balls and pop in the fridge.

Pop the Quinoa in the veg stock and cook for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile to make the tomato sauce, fry of the onion for about 5 mins, then add the garlic, chili and basil a cook for a further 2-3 mins. Then add the tomatoes, lemon juice and peas. Bring to the boil, then reduce and cook for another 10 mins.

While the Quinoa and the tomato sauce are cooking, fry the meatballs in olive oil. Use a large frying pan, you may have to do this in batches. They should take about 8 mins to cook to golden brown. 

When cooked, combine the tomato sauce and Quinoa (you don’t need to drain the Quinoa), then add to the meatballs. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. I like to serve this in a big bowl placed in the middle of the tale so everyone can help themselves!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Chestnuts Roasting on a Open Fire....or in a risotto?

Nothing conjures up the Christmassy feeling more than walking through the London lights and catching a whiff of roasting chestnuts. I cant help but indulge and always manage to get through a whole bag!

Apart from the street vendors you don't really see chestnuts being used in cooking - which quite frankly is a tragedy because they are wonderfully tasty, earthy little nuggets and they absorb flavours so well! is my Chestnut, Pancetta and Pea Risotto. Like all risottos this is a labour of love, so be prepared to be stove over the stove for a good half an hour...but I promise it will be worth it!

Chestnut, Pancetta and Pea Risotto

2 and a half pints of Chicken Stock
About 20 Chestnuts, peeled and halved (prick and blanch them to make peeling easier!)
200g Pancetta
2 knobs of butter
1 big onion
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 celery stick, finely chopped
2 tbsp Fresh Thyme
400g Risotto rice
half pint of white wine (preferably dry)
200g Frozen Peas
2 tbsp Freshly Grated Parmesan

Heat the stock in a big pan. Pop the chestnuts in a little pan of boiling water and cook for 10 mins, then drain and pat dry. In a separate pan fry the pancetta and cooked chestnuts in a little olive oil for about 5 mins, then add the onions, garlic, celery and thyme and turn the heat to low for about 10 minutes. Add the rice and turn the heat to medium, after about 2 mins add the white wine and stir. Once all the wine has been sucked up by the rice start to add the hot chicken stock one ladle at a time. Add the peas after about 10 mins. Repeat this for about 15 mins until all the stock has been used and soaked up by the rice. Make sure you keep trying the rice to see if it is cooked, if you over cook it it will taste yukky! Once cooked remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Serve with a sprig of thyme.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Glorious Squash!

The wonderful and sophisticated Squash! There are so many things you can do with a squash, with its versatile flavour and sponge like qualities, this veggie can transform from brilliantly British food to  amazing Asian. However, for me, nothing says winter more than a spicy squash soup!!

The most important thing to remember about the squash is that it hates water, so never boil it! Roasting is best and steaming works fine!

Spicy Squash Soup
2 Squash peeled and chopped into chunks
3 Cloves of garlic
1 Onion
2 Celery sticks, finely chopped
2 Carrots, finely chopped
1 pint Veg stock
300ml Milk
Half a red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Tbsp creme fraiche
Fresh Thyme

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Pop the Squash in a roasting tin, sprinkle with olive oil and place in the oven to cook for 20mins. Meanwhile, in a little oil fry the onion and garlic in a deep pan on a low heat for 5 mins. Add the chopped celery and carrots and fry for a further 5 mins. Then add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, pop the lid on, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 mins. Then add the squash, chilli and milk, season to taste, and continue to cook for 5 mins. Places all the ingredients in a blender for 60 seconds. In a pan lightly fry the thyme leaves for about 60 seconds. Garnish with a swirl of creme fraiche and the thyme leaves.