Have you ‘herd’ of the #CAUnival?

I find it find hard to resist a hands on master class invite and it is the promise of making empanada’s and learning about Argentinian street food that lured me to CAU restaurant at Blackheath last week. A Buenos Aires inspired restaurant group CAU is located a short walking from the overground station facing the beautiful All Saints Church. The group is raising funds for the charity Action Against Hunger with the launch of #CAUnival a month long celebration of an ‘Friend’s Day’ or Dia do Amigo. A celebration of friendship this festival is celebrated in many South American countries. What better way to celebrate friendship that over a delicious feast which supports a good cause?!

 

 

Argentinian street food masterclass focusing on beef

Argentinian street food masterclass focusing on beef

As I walked up the hill to the restaurant, I walked past the pretty French Wine Bar – Le Bouchon, which I had visited for their opening a year ago, here is a my review.One has the  unmistakeable feeling of being in a smaller village with huge green spaces and village shops while walking along the high street. It’s rare to get such a feeling but I get that each time I alight at Blackheath station and walk into the area – must be a great feeling to come back home to from work in the busy crowded city.

I found my way in and sat down with two very friendly young ladies – Cherry and Brucine. It was a very warm summer evening and the chilled glass of sprite loaded with ice and wedge of lime was just the thing I needed.

#CAUnival , Action Against Hunger

#CAUnival , Action Against Hunger

 

The big cut of beef on each our tables seemed managed to do it’s job of whetting our appetite so while Dom the master griller took centre stage for the master class ,we were treated to various samples.

Master griller Dom explains the various cuts of beef

Master griller Dom explains the various cuts of beef

We then all got busy making empanadas with different types of stuffing, which we then took home to enjoy over tea. I baked my batch in the oven and enjoyed then with pipping hot cups of chai.

#CAUnival  making empanada's and sampling various cuts of beef

#CAUnival making empanada’s and sampling various cuts of beef

After our master class we were treated to a fabulous meal, here’s a quick look at what we sampled – started  off with a swordfish carpaccioa (£6.50) which I highly recommend – it is a great way to start a meal. Thinly sliced swordfish topped with capers, crushed chilli flakes and dressed with parsley and lemon oil – pairs well with a chilled classic mojito.

Swordfish Carpaccio #CAUnival

Swordfish Carpaccio #CAUnival

Inspired by the master class and eager to try a classic Argentinian steak, I was recommended the Lomito – a fillet of rump which is considered the finest cut in Argentina, it combines the flavour of rump and the tenderness of fillet. I choose to have my steak with a delicious spicy sauce – chimichurri instead of the blue cheese that is offered with Lomito. Chimichurri is definitely the best partner for an Argentinian steak – nothing compares!

Lomito with chimichurri #CAUnival

Lomito with chimichurri #CAUnival

I was seated with a bunch of foodies and we ordered sides to share – here’s a look a what we shared – in keeping with the spirit of ‘Friend’s Day’. Loved the baked sweet potato (£ 2.95), Onion rings (£ 2.75) and the grilled corn with chipotle butter,chilli and herbs (£ 3.95)

Sides at #CAUnival

Sides at #CAUnival

Well don’t just sit there and ‘stew’ get cracking and book yourself a table at one of the 12 CAU branches, after all you wouldn’t want to miss out on this ‘rare’ CAUnival now would you?

To book your #CAUnival feasting experience click here.  You can visit any of their 12 UK sites. For every meal ordered from the #CAUnival set menu, £1 from  will go to the charity Action Against Hunger.

*With thanks to CAU for an invite to a truly memorable evening. All opinions expressed are as always my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.

Taste ‘real’ this summer with the Häagen-Dazs Master Ice Cream Academy

Häagen-Dazs unveiled their Master Ice Cream Academy last week at Bloomsbury Square with a multi-sensory Haagen Dazs experience. I am always drawn to their luxurious ice cream because the ingredients are the very best and so ‘real’ – meaning no preservatives, no artificial additives and definitely nothing nasty!

Experience #realornothing

Experience #realornothing

To host the academy Häagen-Dazs brought together a panel of expert ambassadors ‘The Masters of Real’ – who helped create a unique experience for some select bloggers and members of the press. The academy is founded on the principle that ice cream should be made with high quality, carefully selected ingredients. That’s why Häagen-Dazswill always start with a base of four ingredients – real cream, real milk, sugar and eggs – no vegetable fat, no preservatives, and minimal air. The Masters of Real ambassadors all share Haagen-Dazs’ belief that Nothing is Better than Real. That is the carefully crafted Vanilla recipe by Häagen-Dazs hasn’t changed since they the company first started making it in 1961 – which is exactly what was the vision of their founder Reuben Mattus.

Häagen-Dazs strawberries and cream ice cream

Häagen-Dazs strawberries and cream ice cream

Hosted in a specially created dome we participated in a few simple yet interesting experiments that revealed how our senses react to various stimuli. ‘The Masters of Real’  – acclaimed Head Chef at Duck & Waffle, Dan Doherty , leading lifestyle blogger Rosie of ‘The Londoner’ and sensory expert Professor Barry Smith, helped bring to life the qualities of premium ice cream, encouraging us to explore our senses: aroma, sound, colour and texture, to discover how much they influence our indulgent moments.

Chef Dan explains the multi sensory experience

Chef Dan explains the multi sensory experience

Here is a video about a conversation between Professor Barry Smith and Rose Thomas discussing the science of taste.

Chef Dan Doherty crated a simple yet delicious treat for us using strawberries and cream Häagen-Dasz ice cream, topped with toasted almonds it was just the thing we needed on a warm summer afternoon.

Why not recreate Chef Dan’s peach melba float recipe at home this summer ? Experience and share the indulgent and luxurious taste of Häagen-Dasz with friends and family!

Chef Dan Doherty making a Häagen-Dazs peach melba float

Chef Dan Doherty making a Häagen-Dazs peach melba float

Häagen-Dazs’ Peach Melba Float

By Dan Doherty, Executive Chef at Duck and Waffle

Ingredients

  • Ripe peaches
  • Fresh strawberries
  • 1 x tub of Häagen-Dazs Strawberries & Cream
  • Rose Champagne
  • Toasted almonds

Method

Step 1: Slice the peaches and strawberries and place a couple of each in the bottom of a tall glass

Step 2: Add a scoop of Häagen-Dazs Strawberries & Cream ice cream

Step 3: Repeat both layers

Step 4: Sprinkle with toasted almonds

Step 5: Top up with Rose Champagne

I for one couldn’t stop scooping out the peach melba from the tall fruit laden glass but then we were given more ice cream to eat . This time it was to experience how the sense of touch alters our taste – comparing the feel of a soft silky piece of cloth to that of another that wasn’t as smooth – made all the difference on my taste buds! But as I began to peel off the lid of my ice-cream tub in greedy haste, salivating at the thought of another chilled treat, we were asked to wait just for a few minutes longer – to ensure we didn’t end up a broken spoon! Haven’t we all had that experience where we dug our spoons into a really tempting tub of ice cream only have the handle bend backwards or worse still end up with a broken spoon? To prevent that from happening always allow your Häagen-Dasz ice cream tubs to rest for about ten minutes so the ice cream can be scooped out easily.

I was most curious to learn about how music alters our experience of eating the very same food by affecting our mood and Professor Barry Smith played two very different types of tracks while we sampled the peach melba float. I was very keen to gain some more insight into the work done by Professor Barry Smith into his research into the science of taste. Watch this space for an interesting peek into the science of understanding our senses and taste with Professor Barry.

 If you are craving some ice cream then make yourself a very British dessert – Häagen-Dazs Frosty Eton Mess by lifestyle blogger Rosie. A delicious  recipe with a modern take on the classic recipe.

Here’s hoping you have enjoyed reading about the exciting journey my taste buds took with Häagen-Dasz and the ‘The Masters of Real’. Go get yourself a ‘real’ treat this summer – you know you want to.

The Masters of Real

The Masters of Real

*With thanks to Häagen-Dazs and Great British Chefs for the invite. All images are the property of Häagen-Dazs unless they carry the ‘travelsfortaste’ trademark.

Great British Chefs Masterclass with Chef Russell Brown

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting and cooking along with a chef I greatly admire – Russell Brown.

Chef Russell Brown

Chef Russell Brown

Self taught Master chef Russell Brown owned and ran a successful little restaurant called Sienna in Dorchester, Dorset. It was awarded 3 AA rossettes and a Michelin star in 2010. Only very recently has he closed shop to pursue a new venture – Creative about Cuisine.

We started out by preparing the ricotta in a process very similar to how I make paneer at home. Reminded me of all the times growing up when aai would show us how to expertly get the paneer out from the vessel and hang it to set in a soft muslin cloth – which usually was engineered from her and aji’s ( nan’s) old cotton sarees’s. Chef Russell strongly suggests using distilled vinegar to split the milk to ensure that the end product is not affected by residual odours which may lurk around when anything else is used – lime for example.

How to make ricotta cheese - easy and quick method

How to make ricotta cheese – easy and quick method

While Russell recounted his adventures from his recent travels to Italy he showed us how to make the pasta dough. Then as our dough was resting Russell showed us how to make a delicious vegetable sauce which really was the highlight of the evening. It was so good with the pasta – almost like an edible silk scarf.

Making the vegetable sauce for the agnolotti

Making the vegetable sauce for the agnolotti

I was making Angolotti for the first time and it was great to really get hands on with using the massive rolling pin to flatten the rested dough before passing it through the dough attachment on a KitchenAid. Pipping the ready ricotta mixture was great fun and gives more precise results that filling ravioli parcles with any kind of stuffing. Why? Well, the pipping ensures an almost even filling provided the fluted cutter is wielded almost symmetrically across the stuffed pasta sheet.

How to make agnolotti stuffed with ricotta cheese filling

How to make agnolotti stuffed with ricotta cheese filling

The dessert was Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille and we had a team working furiously in the background to make it for us while Chef Russell showed us how make the raspberry gel. Can never forget the taste of the gel on my palate – it sets almost instantly as it lands on the tongue – weird and fabulous at the same time.

Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille

Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille

In 3 hours flat we had made fresh ricotta and fresh pasta, learnt how to make a delicious sauce to accompany our pasta and filled and cooked the agnolotti too.

At GBC cook school I have had the opportunity to meet and cook with some acclaimed chefs who have shared tips from their vast experience working across the best kitchens across the world. As a home cook and a writer it is always a great pleasure to meet accomplished chefs and learn invaluable tricks and sample the brilliant food they cook. Working alongside some of my close blogger friends and getting an opportunity to meet more like minded journalists and food enthusiasts is definitely a plus.

I have to also mention the lovely Roaslind Rathouse and her efficient team at the Cookery School. A spotless, well maintained kitchen is the least one can expect from Rosalind who is a stickler for perfection and hygiene.

Am now quite determined to explore the joys of home made pasta by recreating Chef Russell’s delicious agnoletti and vegetable sauce sometime soon.

*With thanks to Great British Chefs and Chef  Russell Brown for an invite to a truly memorable evening. Many Thanks to Rosalind and team at the Cookery School. All opinions expressed are as always my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.

Pack a healthy protien punch into your meals with Quorn

One of the main challenges I have been facing off late as I am trying hard to throw off weight is maintaining a high protien diet and keeping my meals low on fat. Believe me it’s tricky trying to go low on sugar, saturated fats and ensuring blood sugar and cholesterol are at acceptable levels too- almost like a tight rope walk!

But even if you do not need to actively lower your cholesterol or sugar levels and are just looking for a healthier alternate to protein from meat sources I would consider including Quorn in your diet. I first tried Quorn simply out of curiosity. Both my husband and me love lamb mince but eating it more that 2 times on a week made me really feel very guilty. But swapping Quorn mince for lamb, once a week was something we are happy to do.

I always marinate Quorn mince with spices overnight and leave it to soak in all the flavours overnight. So when I was invited to an event to cook with Quorn at the Underground Cookery School, I was quite keen to see what recipes they had in mind.

Starters for the evening

Starters for the evening

We started by making dessert – always a great way to start the evening! Chocolate Torte was on the menu and we really enjoyed working with chocolate and working to an easy recipe created by the Underground Cookery School .

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte

Next it was the BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw followed by Quorn Thai Curry – which I enjoyed making the most. I really loved the recipe created by Denise.

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

And for you, my readers here its is for you:

Quorn Thai Curry

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp korma paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
  • 500gm Quorn pieces

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400gm onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 60gm fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 vegetable stock cube crumbled
  • 2 x 400 gm tin coconut milk
  •  3 tbsp sweet mango chutney
  • 30 gm fresh basil
  • 350 gm red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 200 gm mangetout or sugar snaps, halved
Quorn Chicken Pieces

Quorn Chicken Pieces

Method

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the Quorn is coated. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a pan then gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  • Add half of the coriander, the lime leaves, turmeric, stock cube, coconut milk and mango chutney. Gently bring to the boil then simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the basil and remaining coriander to the sauce for the last 5 minutes of cooking time then remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth with a hand blender.
  • Meanwhile transfer the marinated Quorn pieces to a baking tray and cook in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  • Add the Quorn pieces, red pepper and mangetout to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.
Quorn Thai Curry

Quorn Thai Curry

While our curry was bubbling away we sat through a presentation over wine and a  Q-A session. The question many of the bloggers had – as am sure many of you do was – what exactly is Quorn made up of?

Quorn’s core ingredient is a plant protein that is exceptional at replicating the texture and taste of meat.  This is a naturally occurring fungus, which is harvested through a fermentation process. Other key features that make it a great choice are:

  • Quorn has no cholestrol and is high on fibre
  • From the sustainability perspective consider this Quorn mince uses 90% less greenhouse gasses than lean beef mince,

It was lovely to meet so many bloggers that evening and also bump into familiar faces like Leyla Preston and Becky. And for me it’s always a good feeling to come back to Underground cookery school where Chef and Patron Matt Kemp and his able team of chefs ensures that every blogger feels welcome, wine glasses never run dry and cooking is fun all the way.

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The BBQ pulled Quorn was delicious and I really liked the texture of quorn and how easily it had taken up the flavours of the seasoning used. Paired with pink coleslaw it makes for a really great snack and a lovely idea for a summer BBQ.

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

Served with steamed basmati rice, perfectly done – each grain cooked to satisfying perfection was the creamy Thai Green curry – this was the most satisfying dish that evening and one that I am happy to make at home over and over again.

Both hubby and me love our meat and seafood but we are consciously trying to eat healthier, include more vegetables and fruits in our diet and look for healthier protein choices. That’s where Quorn comes in. Quorn certainly is a healthy protein alternative with a wide range of options – a solution to both vegetarians and the rapidly expanding group of people wanting to reduce their meat consumption.

Infographic-Quorn

Infographic-Quorn

Today is World Meat Free Day, why not create your very own easy vegetarian delight for an easy dinner at home tonight? And for those feeling less adventurous there’s many options Quorn has like my favourite Quorn steaks – served with a peppery salad of rocket leaves and fresh summery cherry tomatoes they go down a treat.

World Meat Free Day

World Meat Free Day

*With  thanks to Quorn for the invite and for the team at Underground Cookery for another great experience.  All photographs used in this post are courtesy Preston Perfect Photography. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Scandinavian Cookery Class with Västerbottensost Cheese

The mention of Scandinavian foods brings to mind fresh, light dishes and minimal use of ingredients or at least that was my perception and oh yes lots of fish. So an invitation to attend a Scandinavian Cookery Class, last fortnight was quite welcome. Courtesy of **Västerbottensost cheese – a premium hard cheese with a strong, aromatic flavour the dishes we were going to cook were all created using this cheese.

Scandinavian Feast wit  Västerbottensos

Scandinavian Feast wit Västerbottensos

Scandi blogger Bronte @Scandiwitchen – was on hand to introduce us to some of the most loved dishes of the region all made using – Västerbottensost , made to a 100 year old secret Swedishrecipe. This cheese has a unique taste and is favourite with the Swedish Royals, no wonder then that is considered the king of Swedish cheeses.

Västerbottensost Cheese

Västerbottensost Cheese

Interestingly this cheese can only be produced at the dairy in Burträsk in Västerbotten County, Sweden . Why? Well they have many theories including a rather bizzare one. It is believed that the unique taste of this fabulous cheese could be in calcareous soil in Burträsk which is thought to be the result of an ancient meteor strike.

But the most famous theory is the legend of a maid who many think is the secret behind Västerbottensost. In 1872 a young dairy maid Ulrika Eleonora Lindström was distracted from cheese making by a romantic interlude. When she returned fearing that the cheese she left unattended would have been ruined only to find out that a new unique new taste had developed a year later. The recipe she documented is the well preserved and closely guarded secret behind Västerbottensost.

How Västerbottensost  was created

How Västerbottensost was created

Västerbottensost carries the distinguished title, “By appointment to his Majesty the King of Sweden”. This versatile cheese is not just perfect for the cheese board, or as a garnish but equally great when used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes and cuisines.

Bronte shared some useful insights into how the cheese is to be sliced using a special cheese slicer. Remember the Swedish know their cheese really well and it is common knowledge that the slicing of cheese and using the right kind of slicer for your cheese –  is something that MUST be done right! Now if that made you nervous reading imagine what it did to us while we worked with the cheese 😉 Thankfully there was plenty of wine kept handy to avoid any possibility of us not enjoying the session.

We worked our way through preparing a Swedish Västerbotten cheese pie, laden with copius amounts of cheese – of course, a raw courgette and rocket salad and the star dish Swedish meatballs and mash.

Raw Courgette Salad with Västerbottensost

Raw Courgette Salad with Västerbottensost

When the table was all set there was so much food and many beautiful and interesting sides. I was mostly in love with the cloud berries really while the rest of bloggers relished the pickles and Lingonberry jam.

Swedish Västerbottensost Cheesy cheese pie and salad

Swedish Västerbottensost Cheesy cheese pie and salad

Scandinavian Feast wit  Västerbottensost

Scandinavian Feast wit Västerbottensost

After that fabulous meal I left with lots of recipe ideas popping into my head. After all with a cheese this versatile its not difficult to think beyond the typical wine and cheese pairing. Of course there is always the danger that one may end up devouring most of the cheese before it ends up in your pan – just keep a good bottle of Red handy while you cook – either you will end up too tipsy to cook or you won’t have any cheese left to cook with 😉

The King of Swedish Cheese -  Västerbottensost

The King of Swedish Cheese – Västerbottensost

REAL Swedish Meatballs made well are quite different from the Danish and Norwegian ones and of course way, way…. wayyyy better than the ones you would eat in say Ikea.

REAL Swedish Meatballs recipe:

Serves: 4: makes around 30 small meatballs

Preparation time: 1 hour, including resting

Ingredients:

  • 150ml meat stock (chicken works well)
  • 30g porridge oats or breadcrumbs
  • 350g minced beef
  • 250g minced pork (min 10% fat)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. plain flour (or corn flour)
  • ½ medium onion, grated
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground all-spice
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper,
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce or soya
  • 2 tbsp. cream

 Preparation:

  1. Soak the oats/breadcrumbs in the chicken stock for a few minutes.
  2. Blend the ground meat together in a mixer with a good pinch of salt for a couple of minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg, flour and spices to another bowl and mix with the soaked oats and grated onion, then add this to the meat mixture. You’ll have a sticky, but mouldable, mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for 20-25 minutes before using for best result.
  4. Heat up a pan with a small knob of butter and a drop of oil and shape one small meatball. Fry it until done and then taste it. The quality of meat you use will alter the seasoning required and this is a great way to ensure your meatballs have good flavour. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and fry another meatball to test it until you get it just right.
Meatball Cooking

Meatball Cooking

  1. Shape the individual meatballs in your hands – it helps if your hands are damp, even wet. Each meatball should be around 2½ cm in diameter.
 Meatballs ready to be cooked

Meatballs ready to be cooked

  1. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan with a dash of oil and carefully add some of the meatballs – make sure there is plenty of room for you to swivel the pan round and help turn them so they get a uniform round shape and ensure they do not stick. Cooking time is usually around five minutes. Keep in a warm oven until needed.
  2. Serve with mashed potato, cream gravy and a spoonful of ‘stirred Lingonberry’ (or store bought Lingonberry jam).

Tip: You can get Lingonberry jam in most specialty stores and also some supermarkets.

**Västerbottensost can be found at Waitrose, Ocado and Selfridges,  approx at £19.90/ kg.

*I was invited to be a part of this Scandinavian Cooking Class courtesy of Västerbottensost cheese. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Old El Paso at London Victoria

This year I was part of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations at a fun Pop Up event held bang in the middle of the busy Victoria Station in London by OldEl Paso . A celebration of all things Mexican Cinco de Mayo means the 5th of May on Spanish and marks the triumphant victory of Mexican forces over a heavily armed attack by the French forces in the state of Puebla in 1862.

Old El Paso pop up causes a stir at London Victoria

Old El Paso pop up causes a stir at London Victoria

Though it was not a parade or an energetic dance troop entertaining passerby’s in colourful costumes – as is the way the celebrations happen in U.S.A and Mexico, the pop did manage to cause quite a stir! Chef Andy Bates cooked up some fresh and delicious fajitas for us and pleasantly surprised commuters using Old El Paso. With a few fresh ingredients in tow, he cooked up a delicious treat in minutes.

To spatchcock the chicken, the spine was removed. Then Andy  marinated a whole chicken with Old El Paso roasted tomato and pepper fajita seasoning mix. The best part was though the super soft Old El Paso flour tortillas into which it was wrapped with lettuce some , beans, gucamole and salsa on top.

Chef Andy Bates preparing Spatchcock Roast Chicken with a Mexican style rub

Chef Andy Bates preparing Spatchcock Roast Chicken with a Mexican style rub

You can check of some cool videos of Chef Andy Bates cooking up Mexican meals with Old El Paso ingredients on the Food Network UK website.

Old El Paso  makes kits that you can buy and make delicious meals in minutes but did you know that you can buy various ingredients to create something special on your own too? I particularly like the squeezy chunky guacamole , canned refried beans and bottled sliced red and green jalapenos.

Old El Paso Ingredients

Old El Paso Ingredients

Whatever it is you are after tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, whether you want to fix a tasty side dish or rustle up a big main meal for friends there are many products in their arsenal that could help you create a feast in minutes.

So if it’s the soft and toasty, oven baked tortillas that are calling out to you, why not combine then with some chunky salsa, and twice cooked, crunchy nachips today? Or if you want tangy prawns then why not make it #fajitafriday with a little recipe inspiration from Old El Paso? Find the recipe here

Old el Paso Fajita Friday

Old el Paso Fajita Friday

Whatever Mexican feast you cook up, don’t forget to stock up your larder with some handy Old El Paso ingredients. I am off to make some Ol El Paso Mexican Taco’s now – buh -bye!

*With  thanks to Old El Paso U.K for inviting me. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Great British Chefs Masterclass with Michelin-starred Chef Adam Gray

Last week,I was invited to the #GBCCookSchool by Great British Chefs to cook up a 3 course meal with Michelin-starred Skylon Chef Adam Gray at the Cookery School.

I have always been a great fan of the Great British Chefs website and their many cool recipes and some life saving How to videos. So it was really excited to be invited to a masterclass with them and watch a  Michelin-starred Chef show us some cool tips and tricks.

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After nibbling on some cheese and yummy starters washed down with a glass of bubbly (oh alright I confess – several glasses of bubbly!) we gathered for the demo by Adam gray. Assisted by his sous chef Damon Stokes, he showed us how to expertly fillet fresh Cornish mackerel.

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He then used a wafer thin slice of bread and wrapped it around the fish dabbed with a little mustard and then lightly pan fried in Rape seed oil.

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I have used Rape seed oil before it has a strong nutty flavour probably only less overpowering that it’s bright yellow colour but as the Chef rightly informed us it has half the saturated fat content of olive oil making it lower in cholesterol and also it has 10 times more Omega 3 than olive oil. Besides hailing from Northampton too, the locally produced rapeseed oil (Farrington’s Mellow Yellow) has the Chef’s seal of approval, as expected he is as proud a supporter of British produce, as he is of seasonal ingredients.

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Served with a delicious Rhubarb Relish and a Pea Shoot & Sea Kale salad, these really elevate a simple dish to Michelin-star quality by combining otherwise unusual ingredients to create an imaginative dish.

finished-crispy-mackerel

Image Courtesy : Great British Chefs

The sea kale is something I had never tasted before and like me was quite a discovery in a new taste sensation for me and a few other bloggers. Chef Adam Gray showed us how to serve the Crispy Cornish Mackerel chopped at a slant and plated with the relish at the side adding a final flourish to a posh looking yet easy to prepare crispy fish finger starter – easy if you can master filleting the mackerel that is!

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It looked ever so easy but that wasn’t the case as we were all about to fin out when later a few enthusiastic bloggers got to try their hand at it with the Chef showing them how to wield their knives and expertly handle the fish even if it was a delicate small mackerel or a large meaty specimen. ( why not learn how to fillet a flat fish with tips from this short how to video by Great British Chefs?)

After that we formed 3 groups and set out to make Ticklemore & Goat’s Cheese Fritters under the watchful eye of Chef Adam and Chef Damon. Coated in panko breadcrumbs with a generous sprinkling of fennel seeds, I busied myself with adding 2 coats of the egg wash and breadcrumb mixture to the fritter while the others chopped up the delicious heritage tomatoes seasoned with lovage – an intriguing herb and in taste aptly described by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  as ‘ The flavour is like parsley and celery combined with a hint of aniseed and curry’ . We used Sharpham farms goats cheese and combined it with some soft cheese resulting in a delicious and rich fritter that tasted fabulous served on a bed of fresh salad.

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Moving on to the dessert we made individual portions of Flourless Citrus Cake served with English Strawberries and Vanilla Yoghurt. This is by far one of Chef Adam Gray’s most popular recipe on Great British Chefs, a completely gluten free cake it is one of those recipes which is perfect for cooking along with kids and helping them master some basic skills.

While our cakes were baking in the oven, we once again huddled around the demo kitchen and watched while some brave bloggers volunteered to learn how exactly to wield a knife and fillet a Cornish Mackerel.

The flourless cakes were delightfully light and soft and the fresh strawberries mixed with Tiptree strawberry jam relish was a perfect accompaniment to the dessert. The vanilla infused yoghurt added an interesting dimension to the dish.

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This was the second in a new series of Masterclasseses by Great British Chefs. Held at the Cookery School, where Rosalind Rathouse and her team hosted all of us and made sure that we were well looked after, it was a great experience. The Cookery School itself is very well maintained, as is evident from the spotlessly clean kitchen and work surfaces and eco-friendly practices.

Needless to say the event was even more fun because I caught up with blogger friends Vaishali and Heidi, also finally go to meet Deena Kakaya and Felicity Spector in person. It was lovely to see some more familiar faces like the lovely Miriam and Alexandra too.

*With  thanks to Great British Chefs  for inviting me. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

At the Gourmet Burger Kitchen Chef’s Table with Peter Gordon

It’s not everyday that a celebrity Chef cooks you lunch, naturally then I was quite excited to know that would be sampling food cooked by celebrated New Zealand chef Peter Gordon. Peter was in town to cook up a feast from his new and exclusive fusion menu at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Peter Gordon has been dubbed “the Godfather of Fusion cuisine”. One look at the menu at any of restaurants he is associated and you know that is true.

Peter made his name as Head Chef of The Sugar Club in Wellington in the late 80s. Award-winning incarnations of The Sugar Club followed in Notting Hill and Soho.Today, he oversees the running of The Providores & Tapa Room and Kopapa in London, and Bellota and The Sugar Club in Auckland. In 2009, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by HM The Queen for services to the food industry.

When GBK was first launched in 2001 by owners Adam, Greg and Brandon their aim was to introduce U.K to new and premium beef burgers . Back then to develop the very first menu they worked with fellow Kiwi  Peter Gordon – who now after 14 years is back with a fabulous new fusion menu that experiments with textures, ingredients and flavours.

It was also my first ever meal at any Chef’s Table so soon after I arrived at the Baker Street branch, we were taken to the secret kitchen which is separate from the main kitchen, this is where Tim Molema – the Head of Food at Gourmet Burger Kitchen creates his magic.

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L-RTim Molema – the Head of Food at GBK and Peter Gordon.

For mains we had Peter’s new creation – The Duck Confit Burger. The combination of crisp confit duck with a thick layer of creamy duck liver pâté and melting Cheddar cheese is a heavenly ménage à trois. Though there were those who were not too pleased at the mention of duck liver pâté, I was quite pleased, as I absolutely love  pâté especially when served  as a generous layer on thin, crisp toasted bread (a perfect nibble with bubbly, don,’t you think?)

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The crispy shallots give the burger a lovely crunch (reminded me of layered biryani with crispy fried onion) whereas the fiery ginger and apricot chilli jam is probably what gives this new invention an umami flavour, cleverly combining the rich taste of duck with the other ingredients.

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Encased in soft and fresh brioche buns this burger is simply irresistible.

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The hors-d’oeuvre of sweet potato fries was  topped with a very familiar tasting dressing – Tamarind (reminded me of Mumbai’s famous street food – Bhel!) and also a generous splattering of the Egyptian spice mixture – Dukkah – a nut free version to ensure that those with nut allergies can also enjoy it – Peter is there anything you did not think of ? Guess not 🙂

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For the other side dish – Fresh Summer Homeslaw, Peter has drawn inspiration from Middle eastern spices like sumac and pomegranate molasses. Sumac gives a lovely tart edge to the minty slaw while the mint and pomegranate molasses give it an unmistakable depth of flavour.

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Every good burger should be washed down with a thick and delicious milkshake – or so I think and Peter’s creation – a Banana Biscoff milkshake is a mind-meltingly fabulous fusion of banana ice cream and Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits, also known as Speculoos cookies- a great way to create a fusion of flavours.

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To watch Peter Gordon live in action, cooking up a what he does best – create a fusion of flavours and being able to drink in the experience of being at the Chef’s table was truly memorable.

After that fabulous and exclusive Lunch preview, I spoke to Peter for an exclusive interview where he gave me an insight into the inspiration behind his new menu.

In Peter Gordon’s words, “The UK burger scene has evolved hugely over the last 14 years. It seems like every day a new burger is making headlines, so when it came to creating my own, I knew it had to be something unique to stand out. Putting my own stamp on the menu has been an exciting process and I’ve put the same care into this as I do with every dish I create for my own restaurants. Our fans are always on the lookout for the next big thing in burgers and I am confident they will agree this one is something a bit special.”

You too can get behind the scenes with Peter in the GBK kitchen with this little video clip:

Still here? There surely is a GBK branch you can get to in time for dinner today right ? All you need to do is … grab your coat and …leave!

**Peter’s Menu is now available at Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurants nationwide.

 *With  thanks to the PR Agency and Gourmet Burger Kitchen for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Kindly do not re-produce any images without my prior permission.

GODIVA CHOCOLATES FESTIVE GIVEAWAY

In early October I was invited to the Godiva ‘Experience Christmas’ preview at the posh Godiva store located at Regent’s Street,London, where their range of luxurious chocolate-filled hampers, Swarowski adorned gift boxes, seasonal whiskey truffles and hot Chocolixir in new flavour sensations was revealed to a few select people from the food industry, journalists, bloggers and food writers.

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To fully understand why Godiva is such an iconic brand the story of Lady Godiva must be shared.

Legend has it that when Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and wife of Lord Leofric, protested against the taxation of his subjects a deal was struck: fair Lady Godiva would ride through the streets of Coventry, “clad in nought” but her long tresses, and if the population remained in shuttered buildings, their tax burden would be lifted. The following morning she made her famous ride, the citizens graciously stayed inside and Leofric kept his word and reduced the taxes.

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Lady Godiva won the hearts of many and her legend has lived on through the centuries. Nowhere is her passion, purity, sensuality, style and boldness more symbolised than in Godiva chocolates, which in turn, am sure win the hearts of those who taste them.

Known worldwide for being irresistibly delicious Godiva chocolates are a treat for all the senses. These decadent chocolates and pralines are made to produce thrilling tastes, textures and sensations in each and every bite by creative Chef Chocolatiers who uphold the Godiva values and by using the finest GMO-free ingredients that are used in every single aspect of Godiva chocolate making to create the highest quality end result – the most sumptuous chocolates imaginable.

Godiva Chefs Selection

As always I would like to share a slice of my experience with you by offering ONE lucky readers to enjoy a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde 16 chocolates from Godiva by entering a simple giveaway, to find out how have a read through the easy T& C’s.

Wishing all my readers a very, very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year, may the spirit of Christmas fill your hearts and lives with warmth and joy and may you forgive and forget any old bitterness and embrace with joy the goodness of spirit , only then will the true magic spin it’s web around you…or so I think..:)

GODIVA CHOCOLATES FESTIVE GIVEAWAY

ONE lucky winner can win this fabulous prize ! Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva

Godiva Chefs Selection from Charlottee

How to enter the giveaway:

You too could WIN a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva, all you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Tweet out the following –  with Chef selection box of 16 chocolates from
  3. Leave a comment below telling me who will you share your box of Godiva chocolates and also mention your twitter handle. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Godiva Giveaway Nov'14

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winners will be picked using Random Number.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 31st December’ 2014 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither Godiva or I am liable for any damage of goods in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 15 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The chocolate box will be sent directly  by Godiva.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 2nd January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the lucky winner on Twitter via their twitter id . If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Godiva to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner fails to respond by 5th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen.

*With thanks to Godiva and their PR team for inviting to their exclusive Christmas event . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Images Wiki unless watermarked as ‘travelsfortaste’.

CONGRATULATIONS to the LUCKY winner of this fabulous GIVEAWAY of a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva !!!

AND The lucky winner is : Hold your breath! …….

TRACY K NIXON – Twitter id : 

While you are here why not have a look at the other giveaways on my blog and increase your chances of winnings cool freebies!?!

  • Win one of TWO Goody Bags from KNORR packed with 2x of EACH Knorr flavour pots and stock cubes to participate click here.
  • Win one beautiful Hotel Chocolat gift bag with fabulous cocoa cuisine products, to participate click here.
  • WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces, to participate click here.

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Cooking with WORLD FOODS at the School of Wok and WORLD FOODS Giveaway – CLOSED

Cooking out of jar is something we resort to only when we are really hard pressed for time or in a situation when we simply do have access to fresh ingredients, but there are few jarred sauces that defy this belief and World Foods sauces I think deserve to be one of those. The reason I say this thank to a really well planned and executed cookery class at the School of Wok courtesy WORLDFOODS and expertly conducted by Head Chef at School of Wok Jeremy Wong.

WORLDFOODS produces a range of seven ready-made sauces totaling 51 variations in all with tantalising Asian dipping sauces, pastes, noodle sauces, stir-fry, cooking sauces, marinades, chutneys and salad dressings . The best bit is that they do not use preservatives and artificial flavorings. AND their products are food allergens free, trans-fat free and gluten free with no artificial preservatives, coloring or flavouring. The aim being to produce and  maintain a  range of “clean” products that are suitable for Vegetarians, Vegans and Celiacs.

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Once we had a brief introduction from Jeremy, we were each asked to pick a partner to cook with and since I was going to be eating the duck and Nayna is a vegetarian we picked other partners and Fiona and me started working on the ingredients.

Jeremy showed us some really amazing knife skills and we sliced a pepper like I’ve never done before using a rather huge cleaver imported straight from the Far East. In spite of both Fiona and me still having wrists in bad shape we managed this bit smoothly thanks to picking up some basic techniques that Chef Jeremy very lucidly explained.

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The mention of Panang Curry duck with Thai basil stir fry  made my mouth water. On the menu was a also a Masaman roast poussin and for the vegetarians  similar dishes using the same WORLDFOODS sauces but with aubergine replacing the duck and delicious and cute squash used in place of poussin. I love paneer and the squash was stuffed with paneer – I felt slightly greedy especially when I saw the beautiful roast squash was taken out of the oven – turning a visible shade of green (with envy – which scared Fiona a little and Nayna a lot 😉 !). The vegetarians also made Rendang tacos.

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After the veggie chopping when we started cooking I was really impressed with the huge portion of duck that we were going to cook and it watching the duck sizzle and ooze its fat and juices on the pan made my tummy rumble in anticipation of a fab meal.

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What happened next was the most interesting part of the evening – we learnt some cool wok handling skills and the basics of how to get a stir fry going, I even managed to get a really cool video of Jeremy giving us some amazing tips – why not head over to my Instagram feed and watch the video now?!)

After our cooking session we sat down to a delicious meal and really enjoyed the the taste of the dishes – fresh and full of flavour – nothing that you will expect coming out of a jar – ever! The Lemon drizzle cake made with WORLDFOODS lemongrass paste had a beautiful fluffy and light texture and was irresistibly yummy. I am not a fan of traditional lemon drizzle cakes and find the sharp citrusy taste overwhelming but the milder lemon grass was a very welcome taste for me and I really think that this is going to be my favourite not so secret ingredient for my future bakes!

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With minimal prep done for us, I picked up some excellent knife skills and cookery tips, ate some gorgeous Asian Fusion food and spent a very pleasant evening in the company of some old food blogger friends and met some more really lovely bloggers. The most important part was the superb time management by Jeremy and his efficient in house chef.

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WORLDFOODS have kindly agreed to give ONE lucky reader a selection of 5 delicious sauces to experiment with so you too can create asian fusion foods using natural ingredients in the comfort of your own home.

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How to enter the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces Giveaway with sliceoffme blog:

How to enter the giveaway:

You too can WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS rangeall you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Tweet out the following –  sauces with , to enter head to sliceoffme blog 
  3. Leave a comment below telling me what is your favourite asian dish and your facebook name used to like my FB page. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winner will be picked using Random Number Generator.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 5th January’ 2015 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither WORLDFOODS, nor I am liable for any damage of products and / or contents in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 25 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The sauces will be sent directly  by WORLDFOODS.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 6th January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the winner on Twitter via their twitter id. If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Knorr to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner failS to respond by 8th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LUCKY WINNER WHO HAS WON 5 DELICIOUS WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces

Sarah Davies 

*With thanks to WORLDFOODS and the  PR team for arranging the fabulous sauces for my giveaway and inviting me for the event. A special thank you to School of Wok and  Jeremy for his time, generosity and teaching me some cool skills . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own