Friday, 29 April 2011

Breakfast in a little pot - Tomato and Pancetta Pipkin!

A Pipkin is a baked egg with cream and butter. I like to add pancetta and cherry tomatoes to make a little mini breakfast in a pot! It's the tastiest, easiest way to cook breakfast! 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Simply fry some pancetta in a pan until golden, then add cherry toms (cut in half) and fry for about a minute. Then pop in a ramekin, crack open an egg on top, fill with cream (about a tbsp), add a knob of butter if you want, sprinkle with pepper and place in the oven for about 7 minutes. Serve with toast.

Passion Fruit and Berry Pavlova...the taste of Summer!

Pavlova is, without a doubt, one of my all time favourite puds - you just cant go wrong with Meringue, Passion Fruit and Berries! The great thing about pudding is that it can be served at a dinner party or popped in a jar and eaten at a picnic, either way its always a crowd pleaser! 

3 Free range egg whites
half tsp lemon juice
100g caster sugar
75g Icing sugar and a bit extra for dusting

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Whisk the eggs white with an electric whisk on full speed for 1 min. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar and the whisk again on full speed for about 3 minutes until the peaks are shiny and stiff. Then, very gradually, add in the icing sugar with a spatula. Drop four large dollops onto a lined baking tray, dust with the icing sugar and pop in the oven for two hours. 

100g Strawberries, hulled and halved
100g Raspberries
50g Blackberries
50g Blueberries
20g caster sugar
half tsp lemon juice
4 x Passion fruits

Once washed, place all the berries in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice, cover and refrigerate until you need to assemble the pudding. The passion fruit is just drizzled on top at the end so don't mix it in with the berries!
200g Raspberries
20g Caster Sugar
Puree the raspberries and sugar in a blender, the sieve and again pop in the fridge until it is needed. 

Put it all together
Once the meringues are baked to a light blond colour, they should be hard on the outside and soft on the inside, remove them from the oven and allow to stand for 30 mins. The put on a pretty plate, and arrange the fruit around the meringue, drizzle with the passion fruit and the coulis. If you are taking it to a picnic, simply layer up the meringue, fruit and coulis, don't add too much coulis though as it may make your meringue a bit wet!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

No time to make a picnic? Knock up a quick Pesto Pasta and eat Al Fresco!

I set myself one task for this weekend - to create 'the mother of all picnics'. My picnic would include homemade sausage rolls, homemade scotch quails eggs, mini quiches, cheese magic wands, cherry and mozzarella skewers the list goes on and it was going to be a true feast. However, as per usual, time got the better of me. So my tummy and blog will have to wait until this Thursday where i have already allotted 3 hours prep time for my perfect picnic.

So instead of creating my picnic, I had about an hour to knock up some late lunch for Ed and I, catch the last rays of sunshine, pack my bags and head back to London town. I decided to cook an old favorite of mine, it's a great dish as its perfect all year round and your can always improvise a bit with the ingredients you have.

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Asparagus and Parmesan. 

Homemade Pesto:
You can easily buy pesto but you just cant beat making a homemade one. Its brighter, fresher and fun to make so give it a try! 
A good bunch or two of fresh Basil (remove all the leaves from the stalks)
1 garlic clove
25g (1 oz) pine nuts
About 125ml (4 fl oz) olive oil
4 tbsp freshly grated pecorino piccante cheese
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Salt to taste

Pop all the ingredients in a food processor. You'll know when to stop...

For the Pasta:
500g Dried Pasta
3-4 Chicken Breasts cut into chunks
200g Asparagus Tips
150g Cherry Toms
2 Red Peppers
Parmesan (dont buy pre grated parmesan, its not cool!! Try and get good quality stuff, its makes a lot of difference and is well worth it!)
tsp lemon juice
Wild Rocket

Pop the pasta into a pan of boiling water. Lightly Fry the chicken in a little olive oil for about 8 mins until golden. When the pasta is 2 minutes off being cooked, pop the asparagus into the pan with it. Once cooked, drain and leave to one side. Add the cherry toms and red peppers to the chicken and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then put the pasta and asparagus in the frying pan with the other ingredients and add the pesto. Turn the heat off (the heat from the pasta will heat up the pesto enough!) add a little knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with lots of pepper (but no salt as the parmesan and pesto will be salty already.) Serve with Wild Rocket, sprinkle with more grated parmesan, grab some sun and enjoy! 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Perfect Sandwich!

I have had, what can only be described as, the most tiring two weeks of my life. I carried out a two week test period for my new company, with business partner Josh, called The Lovely Lunchbox ( The weeks consisted of waking up at 3am every morning and getting to our kitchens in Dulwich by 4am to begin preparing the mountains of salads, sandwiches and deli pots which we then delivered to a variety of offices in London. We learnt a huge amount in those two weeks and by far the most interesting was that people just want a good old british sandwich with the occasional twist! oh yeah, and one very important TIP: SEASON YOUR SANDWICHES...its makes all the difference!

So here are my top five sandwiches to be enjoyed in the park, at your desk or at a sunday afternoon picnic (daydreaming of that right now zzzzzz!!)

1. Mature Cheddar, Red Onion Marmalade, Watercress and Cucumber in a white baguette.
2. Roast Chicken, Cherry Tom's, Pesto and Rocket Ciabatta.
3. Parmaham, Rocket and Cherry Tom's in a seedy baguette (sliced up really small to get all the juice out!).
4. Avocado, Tomato, Cucumber, Watercress and Good old Iceberg Lettuce, with Mayo, in a tortilla Wrap.
5. Honey Roast Ham, Big juicy Vine Tomatoes, Mixed Leaf Salad on a whole grain baguette.

My mouth is officially dribbling and i'm off to make myself a late afternoon second lunch!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

You are a Chocolate Tart!

I made a chocolate tart the other day and I was overjoyed by how easy it was. I am not blessed in the pastry/pudding area, this is mainly due to my lack of patience, but i have been forcing myself to try everything. I find it really hard making puddings because I never know how they're going to turn out until they're cooked but the best thing about this tart is you can most certainly taste the chocolate filling before you pour it in the case! Its heavenly! Tip: always make a third more of the filling for your own consumption during cooking! I even made my own pastry and it went surprisingly well but if you dont have time you can just buy pre-made pastry in the supermarket!. I strongly recommend you give this one a go! 

Easy a pie Chocolate Tart

Pastry (if you don't have time to make pastry just buy some ready made shortcrust pastry from any supermarket!)
300g unsalted butter
110g Icing sugar
2 Free Range Eggs
500g Plain Flour

For the Chocolate Filling
300g Dark Organic Chocolate (Green and Blacks do a great cooking choc)
100g Milk Chocolate
50g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
400ml Double Cream
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

To make the pastry, simply beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. By hand this will take about 10 mins. Add the eggs and beat in until the mixture is smooth. Sift in the flour and mix until it comes away cleanly from the bowl. Mould into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 2 hours.

After the two hours, pop the oven on to 200c. Roll the pastry out on lightly floured surface until its about 3-4mm thin. Gently lift it onto a 28cm flan tin and push in the sides carefully. Line the pastry with baking paper, fill with rice and bake blind for about 17mins/until golden. Remove rice and paper and bake for a couple more mins. Leave to cool.

To make the filling simply bring the cream, sugar, butter and vanilla to a simmer on a low heat and then add in the chocolate. Once all the chocolate has melted pour the filling into the cooled pastry case. Pop it in the fridge for two hours. Add a few chocolate shavings and then indulge!